Virus That Reacts Excessively To Gluten Causes Celiac Disease

First Posted: Apr 08, 2017 03:30 AM EDT

A virus known as reovirus tends to react excessively to gluten that causes the celiac disease, according to a new study. This could give insight on why certain people acquire the celiac disease.

The findings of the study were published in Science last Thursday. The study was led by Dr. Bana Jabri of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center and other colleagues, according to Today.

"This is the first study to show that a virus can change the way our diet is seen by the immune system," Dr. Jabri said. The researchers from the University of Chicago collaborated with the University of Pittsburgh to conduct this study.

The study involved mice, in which the scientists infected these rodents with reoviruses. This virus is a harmless type that usually does not make people sick. The infected mice created a super-charged immune system response whenever they were fed with gluten. This caused them to suffer inflammation specific to celiac disease. Meanwhile, those mice that were not infected with the virus had the much milder response to gluten.

The researchers discovered the same results in human patients. Those patients diagnosed with celiac disease had more antibodies to the said virus in their blood and have more of the celiac disease inflammation.

This study could pave the way to a better treatment or process on how to prevent celiac disease. "Now we can start thinking about preventing celiac in a different way," Jabri concluded.

It is reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that at least 3 million Americans have celiac disease, with 97 percent undiagnosed. A study from The New England Journal of Medicine indicates that 30 percent of children with high-risk "celiac genes" had the disease.

Celiac disease is also referred to as celiac sprue, gluten-sensitive enteropathy, nontropical sprue and coeliac disease. It is an autoimmune disorder linked to digestion and damages the small intestine. This gluten is usually found in wheat or grains. The symptoms of celiac disease include diarrhea, anemia, bloating and abdominal pain.

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