Latest Research On Celiac Disease

For those of you who are unaware, I am a biologist. Because of this I frequently read the latest scientific research papers on subjects of interest. Being a celiac, I am obviously interested in the latest developments in celiac research. While I know I cannot explain a lot of the research in layman’s terms (sorry, too much jargon) I can still let you guys know some interesting facts about celiacs you may not have known. If you have questions just ask. If you want sources, I have listed them at the end, just click the “read more >>” link.

  1. The lining of the small intesting in celiacs is inherently different in comparison to the lining of non-celiacs. Even if the disease is not active, the proteins in the intestinal lining have a different set and formation of carbohydrates (sugars). These sugars known form what is known as a glycosylation pattern on the surface of the intestine and are responsible for interaction with many body functions, which means that the interaction with other body functions and the intestinal cell wall is different between celiacs and non-celiacs. Exactly what this means is not yet known.
  2. All humans have bacteria in their intestines which help them digest and metabolize certain foods and nutrients. Celiacs have more rod shaped bacteria in their gut than non-celiacs. They have a different bacterial flora than non-celiacs. This difference is still evident even after being on a long-term gluten-free diet. I am definetly continuing my regimen of probiotics (BioK all the way).
  3. There is a hypothesis that the immune system in the intestine of celiacs have a hard time discriminating between pathogens and benificial particles (i.e. gluten peptides) which suggests that gluten might be mistaken as a pathogen. Although not proven, there is strong evidence to suggest that this hypothesis is correct.
  4. A group of researchers have determined that some non-human primates (apes/monkeys) are also celiacs. Specifically they found a group of rhesus macaques that displayed celiac like symptoms, including production of anti-gliaden antibodies, when they were fed gluten. The researchers suggest that these macaques could prove useful in further celiac studies.

Forsberg G, Fahlgren A, Horstedt P, et al. Presence of bacteria and innate immunity of intestinal epithelium in childhood celiac disease. Am J Gastroenterol 2004;99:894-904.

Tjellstrom B, Stenhammar L, Hogberg L, et al. Gut microflora associated characteristics in children with celiac disease. Am J Gastroenterol 2005;100:2784-8.

Meresse B, Curran SA, Ciszewski C, et al. Reprogramming of CTLs into natural killer like cells in celiac disease. J Exp Med 2006;203:1343-55.

Bethune MT, Borda JT, Ribka E, et al. A non-human primate model for gluten sensitivity. PLoS ONE. 2008; Feb 20; 3(2). Free full-text online at

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7 Responses

  1. Thank-you for posting this. I am not a celiac but am also gluten free due to research carried out with respect to dietary approaches for treating multiple sclerosis. This page has information on research connecting MS with celiac disease:

    There is a 40 minute talk by Dr. Loren Cordain (The author of The Paleo Diet) on the subject of this ms-diet but it is informative to anyone wishing to understand how some foods create ‘trojan horses’ in our digestive and neurological systems.

    I provide the link not necessarily as a recommendation for his book/diet but for an excellent presentation of the science of digestion (with respect to your first and third facts in your post). This is the link to his presentation….the simultaneous powerpoint show only works in IE I think:

  2. Very interesting articles, are you also aware that the scientists have identified Zonulin, a body produced chemical, which is very high in people with an intolerance to gluten, they are trying to control it and Alvine Pharmaceuticals are working on a blocker, which digests Gluten, this all points to a possible medical solution and what a blessing that would be. If you have a couple of minutes, take a look at our web site we have some wonderful recipes listed. Keep in touch. Don Tombs

  3. I did know about Zonulin, but not about the pharmaceutical aspect.

    Personally, I wouldnt take a pill. If there is a way to control a disease without the use of medication, then I honestly believe that that the non-medical way is better for your body in the long run. Popping pills for the rest of my life is far worse than not being able to eat gluten.

  4. […] Posted on March 10, 2008 by Shauna McCabe Last week I wrote a post about the latest research in celiac disease. Today I received a comment about that that post from Kristina: “I just read your summary of […]

  5. “There is a hypothesis that the immune system in the intestine of celiacs have a hard time discriminating between pathogens and benificial particles (i.e. gluten peptides) which suggests that gluten might be mistaken as a pathogen. Although not proven, there is strong evidence to suggest that this hypothesis is correct”

    -this really interested me. do you know where i could find a fairly recent article going into more detail about this?? (or maybe a weblink for an article discussing this hypothesis)

  6. I found this abstract.


    W. M. Roufail1 and Julian M. Ruffin1
    (1) From the Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N. C.

    Summary In 2 cases of gluten-sensitive enteropathy, clinical recovery, partial in one and complete in the other, followed the administration of a gluten-free diet. When challenged with gluten both patients had a pronounced relapse. After the prolonged administration of tetracycline both patients have resumed a normal diet and show no effect when challenged with gluten. If these results can be confirmed in other patients, there must be a factor other than gluten in the so-called gluten-sensitive enteropathy.
    Supported in part by Grants AM-5093-08 and M01-FR30 from the National Institutes of Health, U. S. Public Health Service.

    This is very interesting. Two people who cured/silenced
    CD by using long term tetracycline.

    Dear Shauna, this shows that perhaps CD can be cured by
    killing certain bacteria that triggers CD. Unfortunately I could not acces the entire article. It requires subscription and possibly a fee.

    If anybody can post the entire article, I would be very grateful, or please post it to my email address:



  7. i lived pakistan and two of my babies were found in celiac , i need help to over come of that disease.

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