A recent study that was published in the journal Gastroenterology found that individuals suffering from wheat or gluten sensitivity have a higher tendency to develop autoimmune diseases compared to patients with celiac disease.
Celiac disease is a medical condition characterized by intestinal problems due to the consumption of gluten, a component of wheat. The recent identification of a new group of people who have digestive problems from eating wheat or gluten but do not have celiac disease or wheat allergy has prompted researchers to figure out the underlying cause of what has been termed nonceliac wheat or gluten sensitivity (NCWS). A group of researchers set out to investigate the risk of developing autoimmune disorders associated with celiac disease (CD) and NCWS.
An autoimmune disorder develops when an individual’s own immune system attacks healthy substances or tissues of the body. In this study, a group of patients who had been previously diagnosed with NCWS and had an associated autoimmune disorder were compared to another group of newly diagnosed NCWS patients to determine the outcome or risk of developing autoimmune diseases in the future. The study found that a higher proportion of NCWS patients had autoimmune diseases compared to CD patients. In particular, newly diagnosed NCWS patients had a higher tendency to develop thyroiditis, an autoimmune disorder of the thyroid gland.
This study presented evidence that NCWS is a medical condition different from CD and a better understanding of why NCWS patients tend to develop autoimmune disorders will help in the proper diagnosis and treatment of this disease.
From: Carroccio A, D’Alcamo A, Cavataio F, Soresi M, Seidita A, Sciume C, Geraci G, Iacono G, Mansueto P. High proportions of people with nonceliac wheat sensitivity have autoimmune disease or antinuclear antibodies. Gastroenterol. 2015; 149: 596-603.
By: Ana Victoria Pilar, PhD