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Wheat Protein Linked to Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity

Posted on Oct. 20, 2016, 6 a.m. in GI-Digestive Immune System Inflammation

Consumption of ATIs can lead to inflammation in tissues beyond the gut and may contribute to the development of gluten sensitivity, as well as other conditions

Scientists have concluded that a protein in wheat, amylase-trypsin inhibitors (ATIs), can lead to inflammation in the brain, lymph nodes, spleen and kidneys when consumed. Study results were presented at a meeting organized by United European Gastroenterology for specialists to relay the latest research in digestive and liver diseases. The most common problem people experience after consuming wheat is digestive problems. This recent study has shown that wheat could be related to additional health problems, such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and asthma. According to professor and researcher, Detlef Schuppan of Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany: "As well as contributing to the development of bowel-related inflammatory conditions, we believe that ATIs can promote inflammation of other immune-related chronic conditions outside of the bowel. The type of gut inflammation seen in non-celiac gluten sensitivity differs from that caused by celiac disease, and we do not believe that this is triggered by gluten proteins."

Tthe problems caused by ATIs are particularly concerning, because of their ability to trigger unfavorable reactions in the digestive system, which can spread to other cells or tissues in the body. ATIs can:

  • Influence inflammation of chronic and immune related chronic conditions outside the digestive system, which potentially worsens the symptoms of any pre-existing illness or illnesses.
  • Contribute to the development of non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
  • Provoke other diseases such as lupus and fatty liver disease.

Professor Schuppan believes that the contamination found in gluten, and commercial wheat ultimately trigger specific types of immune cells in the digestive system and other tissues. This activation process is what researchers believe worsens the symptoms of pre-existing inflammatory illnesses.

New Study Underway Could Reveal More
Previous studies only focused on the impact gluten has on digestive health; however, gluten does not cause NCGS or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. People who live with the condition have reported that they have achieved a certain benefit from maintaining a gluten-free diet. However, some people without the condition have experienced stomach problems while consuming products that contain gluten, even if they do not have the disease. Researchers conclude that ATIs could be the contributing factor to this complaint.

The new research is underway, and as of now, biomarkers are not in place to monitor the patient’s condition. Healthcare providers determine the seriousness of the problem, and provide resolutions based on observations and symptoms. These determining factors motivate them as to what type of treatment or intervention is needed to improve the condition.

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1. Zevallos V, Weinmann-Menke J, Meineck M et al. Alpha-amylase/trypsin inhibitors (ATIs) accelerate murine systemic lupus erythematosus. Poster presentation at the 16th International Coeliac Disease Symposium, 21-24 June 2015, Prague, Czech Republic. Poster P168.

2. Zevallos V, Yogev N, Nikolaev A et al. Consumption of wheat alpha-amylase/trypsin inhibitors (ATIs) enhances experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis in mice. Oral presentation at the 16th International Coeliac Disease Symposium, 21-24 June 2015, Prague, Czech Republic.

3. Junker Y, Zeissig S, Kim S-J et al. Wheat amylase trypsin inhibitors drive intestinal inflammation via activation of toll-like receptor 4. J Exp Med 2012;209(13):2395-408.

4. Fasano A, Sapone A, Zevallos V et al. Nonceliac gluten and wheat sensitivity. Gastroenterology 2015;148(6):1195-204.

5.Schuppan D, Pickert G, Ashfaq-Khan M et al. Non-celiac wheat sensitivity: Differential diagnosis, triggers and implications. Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol 2015;29(3):469-76.

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