Missing Protein Inhibitor Could Be the Cause Of Barrier Breakdown

Some real hope for us today in the guise of a study suggesting that people with hyper-permeability may be lacking in a particular protease inhibitor that protects the integrity of the body barriers.

That’s dynamite info. The researchers:

have shown that Elafin, a protein with anti-inflammatory properties, is less abundant in patients with celiac disease than in healthy people. They identified that Elafin is capable of preventing the destruction of the gut barrier during inflammation, and that Elafin is able to interact with enzymes responsible for the abnormal breakdown of gluten: transglutaminase-2. Consequently, Elafin reduces gluten toxicity.

So, they are talking only about coeliac disease a tTg2 here but this is potentially good news for anyone suffering with hyper-permeability syndromes.

So far, they have only tested the theory on mice and clearly there need to be human studies done but the results so far look very encouraging:

Small intestinal barrier function, inflammation, proteolytic activity, and zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1) expression were assessed, . Treatment of gluten-sensitive mice with elafin delivered by the L. lactis vector normalized inflammation, improved permeability, and maintained ZO-1 expression.

In other words, the elafin reduces the inflammation caused when we consume gluten and we know it is the inflammation that sparks the whole barrier breakdown cascade, weakening of zonulin which control the gateposts etc. The researchers concluded:

The decreased elafin expression in the small intestine of patients with active CD, the reduction of 33-mer peptide deamidation by elafin, coupled to the barrier enhancing and anti-inflammatory effects observed in gluten-sensitive mice, suggest that this molecule may have pathophysiological and therapeutic importance in gluten-related disorders.


Now, when I first saw this report on various websites, it looked like they had used a probiotic culture called lactococcus lactis as a source of the elafin and I got all excited because I thought if we can get the L Lactis, we were home and dry. When I read the study carefully though, they had just used the probiotic in a modified way to act as a delivery mechanism. Shame, that would have been easy, wouldn’t it?! We will just have to wait for their modified version to come out when the trials have been done.

You can read the Science Daily report below in full and read the study abstract here.

INRA – A natural protein, Elafin against gluten intolerance?.

Yay, well done researchers, keep at it!

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