A new treatment strategy against gluten intolerance orceliac disease , elafine is a promising avenue. It is a natural and anti-inflammatory protein found in lesser amounts in people with it. Researchers used a probiotic bacterium capable of releasing this protein into the gut of a mouse and the result was conclusive.
What is gluten?
The gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and oats. Insoluble grain proteins are divided into two groups: prolamins and glutenins . They are the ones that give elasticity to the dough made with flours when making bread and pastries. The celiac disease is associated with a group of proteins called prolamins. Prolamin found in wheat is called gliadin . This protein is the main element responsible for the disease. Other cereals also contain a so-called “toxic” prolamine: barley hordein, rye ripen, and oat avenin. These prolamins are rich in glutamine and proline, two amino acids.
Once rendered in the intestine, gliadin is digested by gastric and pancreatic enzymes. In other words, it is cut into several parts, the peptides, which are thus released. One of these, containing 33 amino acids, is able to trigger an immune response but only after a specific chemical transformation performed by an enzyme called tissue transglutaminase. Tissue and anti-gliadin transglutaminase antibodies are then produced and cause damage to the lining of the intestine.
Elafine, a protein less present in the patient
Researchers at INRA and Inserm, in collaboration with researchers from McMaster University in Canada and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, made an interesting discovery. Elafine is found in smaller amounts in people with this intolerance. This anti-inflammatory protein is normally present in the intestines of healthy people. Once established, the researchers used a probiotic bacterium capable of releasing this enzyme into the intestine and the mouse experiment was conclusive.
Elafine’s function is to reduce the immune system’s response and thus prevent inflammation of the intestine. How? It protects the intestinal mucosa by preventing the transformation (mentioned above) carried out by tissue transglutaminase. So, it prevents the peptide from becoming more immunogenic or if you prefer, more “toxic”.
Diet, the only treatment possible
The celiac disease or gluten intolerance is an autoimmune disease. The small amount of elafine causes gluten to trigger an immune response.Inflammatory destruction of the small intestine occurs. The intestinal villi disappear and the absorption of nutrients becomes difficult. Following this malabsorption, a deficiency in many nutrients such as iron, calcium, folic acid, occurs. The result is often anemia and even osteoporosis. Until now, the only treatment possible is the removal of gluten from its diet.
Thirty years ago, celiac disease was little or not known. Since that time, 1% of the population of North America and Europe, that is, 8 million people, have been diagnosed. A lucrative market for specialized grocery store traders! There is now a host of products available on the market. In addition, the growing demand for these products has now resulted in many well-known companies such as Catelli, Robin Hood and many others offering lower cost food than those found in specialty grocery stores.
While waiting for the miracle pill, the fall in gluten-free food prices is for the moment a consolation. Do not despair, researchers are on the right track. In fact, a patent was filed in May 2013.