#Gluten – Not All About Gliadin

Why is it that most gluten sensitives and coeliacs are not diagnosed even though they are tested? Might it be because we are looking for the wrong thing?

Currently, coeliacs are only tested for one fraction of one type of gluten – 33-mer gliadin. If you happen to have a problem with that particular fraction of gluten, you will get a positive antibody result. But if you don’t, you won’t, and that will be the end of that.

There is research to show that other fractions of gluten, and indeed non-proteins in grains, can cause similar issues in grain and gluten sensitives. Check this blog post from Dr Osborne at the Gluten Free Society (I can’t link to it so have included it here):

New Glutens Discovered to be Harmful To Health

A new research study has led to the discovery of new gluten proteins responsible for generating immune damage in patients with celiac disease.  This new study helps shed more light on the mechanisms behind gluten sensitivity.  This information helps uncover the myth that only gliadin is responsible for the inflammatory immune reaction that contributes to celiac disease.

Unexpectedly, a sequence from omega-gliadin (wheat) and C-hordein (barley) but not alpha-gliadin was immunodominant regardless of the grain consumed.


Sci Transl Med. 2010 Jul 21;2(41):41ra51.

Gluten is the storage protein found in all grains.  Most research focuses on alpha gliadin as the main culprit in gluten intolerance.  These studies prove that gluten research is still in its infancy and there is a lot more that we do not know about the scope of gluten proteins and the damage they can stimulate.

Additionally, these studies point out more flaws in laboratory testing used to identify gluten sensitivity.  Anti gliadin antibodies are commonly used to measure immune responses to alpha gliadin.  In light of this recent research, one can see the limitations in only measuring reactions to the alpha gliadins, as omega gliadin, C-hordein, and other gluten fractions were found to also to cause immune stimulation.  Additionally, research from the early 50′s (Haas SV and Haas MP: Management of celiac disease, p x. J B Lippincott Company, Philadelphia, 1951.) on 600 celiac patients revealed that using a specific carbohydrate diet (eliminating all grain) led to…

complete recovery with no relapses, no deaths, no crisis, no pulmonary involvement and no stunting of growth.

Because all grains contain gluten (in different forms), and only a fraction of these glutens have been studied, it is foolish to assume that traditional “gluten free” grain based substitutes are safe for consumption for the gluten sensitive individual.  Consider the following research conclusion:

Also of note is the fact that the origin of the idea that wheat, barley, and rye gluten as the only cause for celiac disease is based on a study performed on only 10 people. 

Here, here.

I am pleased that shortly I will be able to offer you a test for many more of the gluten fractions and other parts of grain which, I suspect (when the powers that be take their blinkers off) will revolutionise the diagnosis of gluten sensitivity and coeliac disease. I hope. It can’t be right that so may people are suffering because of our very narrow approach to diagnosis. Many people do NOT have a problem with 33-mer gliadin, and many people don’t show evidence of villi flattening on biopsy because the patches taken were from undamaged places in the gut.

I hope it will not be too long before coeliac specialists wake up and smell the (corn-free) coffee.

Meantime, some experts are suggesting that anyone found with an antibody to gluten in their blood should be classified as gluten sensitive since the body clearly has set up an antibody reaction to it and that should be all the proof we need. Why should we wait for damage to be done to villi, thyroid, nerves, brain etc before we take any notice.

I will shortly be launching the new food intolerance tests – and I am pleased to say that gluten (rather than any fraction such as gliadin) is included in it. If it comes up positive, I shall be taking my lead and suggesting a gluten free diet as a preventative step, no matter what else doesn’t show up. This test will be available in the next two days and will be done by a lab in the States for us.

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