It is caused by an improper immune response to the protein gluten, found in wheat, rye, and barely, that damages the lining of the small intestine. Celiac disease, an autoimmune pathology, has no effective remedy at present, the only way to avoid exposure to its painful symptoms is to proscribe the nutrient in question from its diet.
A seemingly harmless virus contracted as a baby could be behind the development of Coeliac disease, a new study suggests.
While many people who claim gluten intolerance don't actually have celiac disease, it's still a big problem for hundreds of thousands of people - one in 133 people in the United States alone experience the condition, and researchers estimate that only 17 percent of those who have the condition in the country have actually been diagnosed. Despite the prevalence of the disease - 1 in 133 people in the US are impacted by it, according to the study - only 17 percent of Americans have been diagnosed with it. "When a virus that's not terribly pathogenic attacks at the same time that a new food is introduced, the immune system is tricked".
"What its saying is, here's a mechanism for how what otherwise might seem to be harmless virus might confuse the immune system into thinking something's a harmful protein". In the case of celiac, the immune system reacts to.
In mouse and cell experiments, the researchers found that the intestinal reovirus caused cells to overproduce immune signals called type 1 interferons, which generally help regulate immune responses.
To figure out whether the common but harmless human reovirus could be playing a part in this increase, Jabri and her colleagues took two different reovirus strains that infect humans, type 1 Lang (T1L) and type 3 Dearing (T3D), and tested them on mice.
"It's been hypothesized for decades that virus infection can trigger autoimmune processes".
Researchers also highlighted the idea that factors like the overall health and the genes of a person might also play a significant role which could establish whether the virus will trigger celiac condition or not. The findings, published Thursday in Science, provide an explanation for why certain individuals develop celiac disease, while others do not.
The study also found that celiac disease patients had much higher levels of antibodies against reoviruses than those without the disease.
R. Bouziat et al., "Reovirus infection triggers inflammatory responses to dietary antigens and development of celiac disease", Science, doi:10.1126/science.aah529811, 2017.
The researchers compared about 18,000 women with confirmed cases of celiac disease to over 89,000 others who were never diagnosed. And it also promoted an inflammatory response to gluten. At first, they didn't think they'd find a connection between reoviruses and celiac disease.
The result of the study is a shift from other studies that focus on celiac disease as a genetic disorder.
If it's true that the virus can trigger celiac disease, then young children who carry the risk genes for celiac could be vaccinated against Reovirus. If it is, then a reovirus vaccine could be developed for at-risk children, which could potentially block the development of celiac disease, "and that would be pretty unbelievable", Dermody says.