AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Exposure to Certain Bacteria Can Lead to the Development of Celiac Disease

In a study published by the Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, researchers have found that bacterial exposure is a potential environmental risk factor, leading to the development of Celiac Disease. Scientists believe that this discovery can lead to diagnostic or therapeutic approaches to the illness.  

Celiac Disease affects about one in 40 Australians and about half are born with about one of two genes that cause the disease. People suffering from Celiac Disease must follow a strict non-gluten diet, as any amount of gluten can trigger health problems. Scientists have known for a while that environmental factors trigger Celiac Disease, alongside the genetic predispositions, but were unaware of exactly what the environmental causes was.

To conduct the study, researchers showed how, at a molecular level, receptors that were isolated from immune T from Celiac Disease recognized pieces of protein from certain bacteria that mimic gluten. The results showed that exposure to such bacteria may play a role in the recognition of gluten by the same T cells when individuals with a predisposition eat any amount of gluten. Thus, the individual’s immune system reacts to the bacteria molecules and, in doing so, develops a reaction to gluten molecules because to the immune system the molecules are identical. 

With these results researchers have now linked microbial exposure as a possible environmental risk factor for Celiac Disease through a molecular foundation. 

The results of this study is extremely important as it can lead to new search in Celiac Disease and possibly new methods of prevention!

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  1. maggiechondria

    Personally, I never really knew the true causes of celiac disease. It is very interesting to know that exposure to certain bacteria can lead to the development of celiac disease! I found another article relating to prevention and treatment of the celiac disease, This article states how, “A phase 2 clinical trial using a new technology show it is possible to induce immune tolerance to gluten in individuals with celiac disease. After treatment with the technology, the patients were able to eat gluten with a substantial reduction in inflammation.” I think it would be very crucial to the advancement of celiac disease prevention to use the research found in the study you stated!

  2. jessophagus

    This article hits close to home because my younger sister suffers from celiac disease. She was able to consume gluten for most of her life. At age 13, she began experiencing discomfort and discovered she had a gluten allergy. In my house, we have two ovens, two sets of silverware, two sets of pots, pans, plates, bowls, you name it. Anything that is used for cooking or preparing food, my sister has her own set. She cannot risk cross-contamination, when gluten is accidentally transferred from one surface to another with harmful effects. As Abiogenesis mentioned, there is no current cure for celiac disease. However, a friend of mine who is also gluten-free recently told me about glutenza, an enzyme that breaks down “unhydrolyzed gluten peptides.” This is extremely useful for cross-contamination. With restaurants and travel, one can never be sure how careful the kitchen staff prepares food. This has helped many in the gluten-free community with such uncertainty. One thing to note is that the pill is not FDA approved, so be sure to consult a doctor before using it.


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