In celiac diseased individuals, the immune cells present in the intestines are permanently replaced by a new subset of cells that promote inflammation, reveals new research. Foundation for the progression of the disease is laid by this permanent 'immunological scarring,' which has long-term implications for gut health in diseased patients.
The results also suggest that the same process could be contributing to other chronic intestinal disorders, such as ulcerative colitis.
‘The discovery would pave the way for the treatment of many chronic intestinal disorders.’
Dr James McLaren, from Cardiff University's School of Medicine, said: "In celiac disease, T cells found in the bowel react to gluten and cause inflammation, which damages the lining of the bowel.
"Under normal circumstances, T cells have a protective role in the bowel and form a stable population. However, in celiac disease, they contribute to the inflammatory process, causing short-term symptoms and increasing the risk of developing certain types of bowel cancer.
"Our new study suggests that even though short-term symptoms, such as diarrhea and abdominal pain, can be alleviated by removing gluten from the diet, long-term implications may remain, because 'tissue-healing' T cells in the bowel are permanently replaced by 'pro-inflammatory' T cells."
Celiac disease is common and affects one in 100 people. The international team hope the new findings will help inform the treatment of chronic intestinal disorders.