Immune system broken from Celiac Disease?

A new study just came out talking about how the immune system can be permanently damaged by celiac disease. This study has not been confirmed or repeated, so it should be taken with a grain of salt. It also is really important and I felt like it was important to share.

In Celiac Facebook groups, I notice that a lot of people say that the gluten free diet isn’t enough. They say even though they are strictly gluten free, they don’t feel better, and are constantly sick. I would agree. I’ve been there. My health did not dramatically improve on a gluten free diet. In fact, I would say I am sicker now than I was before diagnosis. Last winter, I was sick with various colds or infections from October to February and only felt better on steroids. Antibiotics didn’t help. Over the summer, I didn’t function well – lots of rest, had to quit going to the gym because I couldn’t recover, and just feeling ill all the time.

Now I am in the Nexvax drug trial, I’m feeling better but I’m not sure I’m getting the drug. Nor am I sure that Nexvax is the cause of feeling better. But things were terrible before and are ok now. So again, grain of salt.

With those two caveats, here’s the information on the study.

They did a study looking at T-cells. T-Cells can be protective or pro-inflammatory. In Celiac disease, T cells are activated by gluten and become pro-inflammatory leading to damage in the lining of the small intestine. After a gluten free diet is started, the T-Cells should go back to being protective. But they don’t. The T-Cells permanently stay as pro-inflammatory. Scientists don’t know why the T-Cells stay pro-inflammatory.

This is a big deal. In essence, it says a gluten free diet doesn’t cure celiac. Once the body’s immune system is activated, there is no way to turn it off. From all of the anecdotal evidence I see on the Facebook groups, I would agree – the gluten free diet is not a cure for celiac disease.

I think that the cure for Celiac lies in managing the immune response. If scientists can encapsulate gluten and stop it from interacting with the activated immune system, I’m in. If they can retrain the immune system to ignore gluten, I’m in.

So, bottom line, they are still discovering things about celiac they didn’t know a decade ago. I’m grateful that so many, very smart people are working on understanding and eventually developing a cure for celiac.

Here’s the link to the article.

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