News / Health

Protein May Help People with Celiac Disease

FILE -  Preparation of gluten-free dough at Pure Knead bakery in Decatur, Georgia.
FILE - Preparation of gluten-free dough at Pure Knead bakery in Decatur, Georgia.
Jessica Berman
A molecule found in healthy people may help those with celiac disease.  The newly identified molecule, a protein called elafin, tames an enzyme that plays a role in inflammation of the small bowel caused by eating certain grains.  

An estimated one in 100 people suffers from celiac disease.  It is marked by inflammation in the small intestine triggered when they eat a hard-to-digest protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye and most cereals.  The autoimmune disorder causes abdominal pain, bloating, malnutrition and anemia, and increases the risk of cancer.  

Millions more individuals are gluten sensitive.  That is, they test negative for celiac disease but their digestive enzymes cannot break down gluten, and that triggers bouts of abdominal cramps, pain and diarrhea.

Constant exposure to gluten causes the lining of the intestine to become thin.  The only treatment for celiac disease is extremely difficult, it's life-long avoidance of bread, pasta and foods containing gluten so the bowel can heal.  

But there may soon be a way to eliminate the gastrointestinal distress.

Research scientist Elena Verdu of McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, says experts already knew that patients with another digestive disorder called inflammatory bowel disease have abnormally low levels of the protein elafin.

“And therefore we set to examine the levels of elafin in biopsies from patients with celiac disease and in patients that were one year on a gluten-free diet and also in patients without celiac disease.  And we discovered that patients with celiac disease had decreased levels of elafin in the upper gut," said Verdu.
 
In healthy individuals, elafin interacts with an enzyme called transglutaminase 2, preventing the inflammatory reaction experienced by celiac and gluten sensitive people.

McMaster researchers, in collaboration with scientists at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, did experiments with non-celiac, gluten sensitive mice.  As described in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, they gave the rodents a helpful food bacterium called Lactococcus lactis, genetically engineered to produce elafin in the gut.  

“So when these mice were given the Lactococcus lactis with the elafin and they were challenged with gluten, they did not develop these abnormalities.  So, they did not have the leaky barrier [gut], they did not have the inflammation, they did not have any of these alternations.  They were as the normal mice that were not given gluten," said Verdu.

Vendu says an elafin-containing probiotic could add flexibility to a gluten-free diet, but to be protective, it would have to be taken as a dietary supplement before each meal.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid