An ongoing debate over which patients with symptoms of celiac disease should go on a gluten-free diet has been rekindled in a new study.
The new research has concluded that people currently diagnosed as "potential" celiac disease patients and not advised to follow a gluten-free diet may not be "potential" patients at all.
Scientists in fact found that these patients have the same distinctive metabolic fingerprint as patients with full-blown disease who do benefit from gluten-free diets.
In the study, Ivano Bertini and colleagues explained that celiac disease is an autoimmune digestive disorder characterized by the inability to digest a protein called gliadin, a component of gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, and barley. The condition causes diarrhea, bloating, and other symptoms, but the disease is often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
The scientists used magnetic resonance metabolic profiling to analyze the biochemical markers in the blood and urine of 61 patients with celiac disease, 29 with potential celiac disease, and 51 healthy people.
They found that those with potential disease largely shared the same profile as those with the confirmed disease and that the biochemical markers in both groups differed significantly from those of the healthy individuals.
"Our results demonstrate that metabolic alterations may precede the development of small intestinal villous atrophy and provide a further rationale for early institution of gluten-free diet in patients with potential celiac disease, as recently suggested by prospective clinical studies," concluded the scientists.
The findings were published in ACS' Journal of Proteome Research.