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John Hawks Explores the Evolution of Celiac Disease

Celiac.com 11/06/2013 - Some researchers have questioned whether celiac disease may have arisen as a side effect of recent genetic adaptations since the domestication of wheat about 10,000 years ago.

Photo: CC--IvanWalsh.comIn his keynote address at the 2013 International Celiac Disease Symposium in Chicago, John Hawks spoke about the history of celiac disease and how he is using that history to explore the responses of complex gene networks to environmental changes during recent human evolution.

Specifically, Hawks is "looking at how human genes evolved in the recent past to get an idea of how those genes work, especially in complex phenotypes."

The risk of developing celiac disease has strong genetic factors, many are a function of immune system molecules called human leukocyte antigens, or HLAs.

HLAs are one of the most variable gene systems in the human genome, with more genetic variants in the modern human population than any other type of gene.

These molecules dot cell surfaces and help the immune system distinguish friendly particles from potentially dangerous pathogens.

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According to Hawks, as populations grew more dense after the rise of agriculture, infectious diseases likely became a more serious issue, which led to a situation where the positive effects of a strong immune system outweigh any negative effects such as autoimmune reactions.

Hawks and former graduate student Aaron Sams recently published evidence of changes in other, non-HLA genes related to celiac disease risk.

However, recent data suggest that the genetics of celiac disease may not be the result of recent evolutionary pressures and changes, but more likely, Hawks says is "characteristic of much more ancient humans."

Hawks and others continue to explore how functional networks of different genes respond to environmental changes.

Hawks hopes to look bring this approach to other autoimmune disorders, such as type 1 diabetes.

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2 Responses:

 
Michael
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said this on
11 Nov 2013 2:00:02 PM PDT
The HLA haplotype containing the DQ2.5 gene, which 90% of celiacs have, is 70,000 years old and has been extremely resistant to any change or fragmentation, according to Wikipedia articles. Wheat was first hybridized from two wild grasses and cultivated 10,000 years ago. Celiac disease was named by an Ancient Greek physician. I have no problem believing that the wheat culture was human folly and a mistake at it's inception, and that the desire on the part of many gluten sensitive people to wish that the cultivation of wheat has changed it (other than to produce more than 500 times the gluten concentration) and that we can somehow produce a safe wheat is just further proof that we become addicted to our poisons, particularly when the most poisonous foods are most enjoyed together, as in pizza and cake, for example.

 
Lea
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said this on
16 Nov 2013 2:42:58 PM PDT
Thank you for the added information, Michael. I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment.




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you're lucky you dont catch colds. im the opposite i catch everything very easily and get alot sicker than whoever i caught it from and take much longer to get better.

Even one positive can be diagnostic. This is one: Gliadin deamidated peptide IgG 33.9. If unsure, a biopsy of the small intestine will provide definite confirmation. There is a control test to validate the other ones, but I don't see it there. What is does is validate the others by checking on the overall antibody levels. But it is to detect possible false negatives. A positive is a positive. I think your daughter has joined our club.

My daughter, almost 7 years old, recently had a lot of blood work done, her Dr is out of the office, but another Dr in the practice said everything looked normal. I'm waiting for her Dr to come back and see what she thinks. I'm concerned because there is one abnormal result and I can't find info to tell me if just that one test being abnormal means anything. The reason for the blood work is mainly because of her poor growth, though she does have some other symptoms. IgA 133 mg/dl Reference range 33-200 CRP <2.9 same as reference range Gliadin Deamidated Peptide IgA .4 Reference range <=14.9 Gliadin deamidated peptide IgG 33.9 Reference range <=14.9 TTG IgA .5 Reference range <=14.9 TTG IgG <.8 Reference range <=14.9

Just watch out. I just went to the expo in Schaumburg, IL, and ended up getting glutened. I realized afterward that I ate all these samples thinking they were gluten free, and they weren't. One company was advertising some sugar, and had made some cake, but then I realized.... How do I know if this contains any other ingredients that might have gluten? Did they make it with a blender or utensils that had gluten contamination? Makes me realize the only safe things would be packaged giveaways with gluten free labeling. My fault for not thinking things through. It was just too exciting thinking i could try it all and enjoy without worry.

No fasting required for a celiac blood test unless they were checking your blood glucose levels during the same blood draw.