The abnormal immune response to gluten damages the small intestine and is associated with gastrointestinal symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea, lethargy, and an increased risk of osteoporosis and cancer. A new study has identified the reason why some celiac disease sufferers react to oats as well.
Oats contain proteins, called avenins, that are similar to gluten, oats are excluded from the gluten-free diet in Australia.
The study conducted by the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Monash University and US biotechnology company ImmusanT, was conducted over a ten year period. It was detected that oat consumption triggered an immune response in eight per cent of the 73 participants with celiac disease.
The significance of previous studies performed in test tubes was unclear,” said Dr Melinda Hardy. “By studying people with celiac disease who had eaten oats, we were able to undertake a detailed profile of the resultant immune response in their blood stream. Our study was able to establish the parts of oat avenins that cause an immune response in people with celiac disease.”
“This study provides specific detail on the parts of oats stimulating immune responses, and highlights the relevance of grains other than wheat in celiac disease,” Dr Tye-Din, head of celiac research at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, said. “This is a vital piece of the puzzle that informs the development of targeted tests for oat toxicity and the design of new treatments for people with celiac disease.”
Melinda Y. Hardy, Jason A. Tye-Din, Jessica A. Stewart, Frederike Schmitz, Nadine L. Dudek, Iresha Hanchapola, Anthony W. Purcell, Robert P. Anderson. Ingestion of oats and barley in patients with celiac disease mobilizes cross-reactive T cells activated by avenin peptides and immuno-dominant hordein peptides. Journal of Autoimmunity, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.jaut.2014.10.003