Studies Differentiate Celiac Disease from Gluten Sensitivity

Recently, my nutritionist Karl Mincin, sent me these two articles on how Italian and U.S. Researchers differentiate between Celiac Disease, which is an autoimmune disease, and Gluten sensitivity which is just that, a sensitivity to it. Which means it’s possibly, not as dangerous, but sure is aggravating!   The research is very interesting, and it suggests, how much more serious Celiac disease is from gluten sensitivity and why. And the differences between the two, in terms of the gut reaction to gluten.  I have Celiac disease, and because it went decades undiagnosed I ended up with a lot of damage as a result.  I ended up with several other autoimmune diseases from the constant exposure. It became for me an autoimmune nightmare. I did almost die many times. In fact, when they finally diagnosed me in my late 30’s, they said two more months and I would have been gone. That’s how serious a disease Celiac is.  I’m not sure if gluten sensitivity is that harmful or not. There is still research being done on it. With gluten sensitivity , according to research and individuals I have known, there is no report of long term damage to the gut, and causing all this autoimmune mess. So check out these two articles. I think you will find them helpful and informative. I will keep up on the research about the differences and if any of you have any ideas or information please feel free to share it. Thanks and   Stay well!

* My nutritionist Karl Mincin can be reached at or by phone at 360-336-2616.  He has been in practice for 30 years, and is well versed in what he does!



Italian and U.S. Researchers Differentiate Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity


‘‘It has become apparent that classic celiac disease represents the tip of the iceberg of an overall disease burden’’

The March 2011 issue of BMC Medicine published a collaborative effort between Italian and U.S. researchers to differentiate between celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. This paper provided a beginning understanding of key differences between the two conditions.

The study included 42 patients with celiac disease, 26 patients with gluten sensitivity, and 39 control patients. The researchers tested each participant’s intestinal permeability and gene expression.

The research team found that gluten sensitivity is not associated with increased intestinal permeability, which is a distinct difference from celiac disease. In addition, markers for adaptive immunity (IL-6 and IL-21) were expressed at higher levels in celiac disease than in the control patients; however, no increase was seen in the gluten-sensitive patients, Conversely, a marker for innate immunity (Toll-like receptor 2) was increased in the gluten-sensitive patients, but not in the celiac patients.

According to the researchers, “these findings support the idea that the prevalent involvement of innate versus adaptive immune pathways may help explain the clinical and serological differences in gluten-sensitive versus celiac disease patients.” They add that the study results suggest “that celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are distinct clinical entities caused by different intestinal mucosal responses to gluten.”

Given there appears to be a 6-fold increase in Gluten Sensitivity vs. Celiac Disease, these findings will help Physicians to determine the appropriate tests and treatment recommendations to deliver to their patients.

Sapone A, Lammers KM, Casolaro V, Cammarota M, Giuliano MT, De Rosa M, et al. Divergence of gut permeability and mucosal immune gene expression in two gluten-associated conditions: celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. BMC Med. 2011 Mar 9;9:23.



Duration of gluten exposure is key factor in developing other autoimmune diseases

The longer sensitive individuals eat gluten, the more likely they are to develop other autoimmune diseases

A 1999 landmark study published in Gastroenterology found that the duration of exposure to gluten in celiac disease patients affects the risk of developing other autoimmune diseases. The finding made age at diagnosis an important factor in the overall health of patients with celiac disease.

For the study, an Italian research team screened 909 patients with celiac disease for other autoimmune diseases, including IDDM (Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus), DH (Dermatitis herpetiformis), Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Graves’ disease, autoimmune hepatitis, alopecia, atrophic autoimmune gastritis, connective tissue disease (rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, dermatomyositis, scleroderma, or Sjogren’s disease), psoriasis, Addison’s disease, unexplained cerebellar ataxia, epilepsy with cerebral calcification, or immune anemia, neutropenia, or thrombocytopenia. They then compared the prevalence of these conditions in three different subgroups, which were separated based on when the patient was diagnosed with celiac disease (before age 2, between ages 2 and 10, and after age 10).

The team found that the prevalence of the other conditions was highest in the subgroup of patients diagnosed after age 10. Similarly, patients diagnosed between ages 2 and 10 had a higher rate of other conditions than those diagnosed before age 2. This suggests that the prevalence of autoimmune conditions increases with increasing age at diagnosis of celiac disease (ie, increasing duration of exposure to gluten).

The researchers’ chart below demonstrates the frequency of developing other autoimmune diseases.

The authors concluded: “Indeed, the age at diagnosis of celiac disease is the single best predictor of the prevalence of autoimmune disease.”

Ventura A, Magazzú G, Greco L; SIGEP Study Group for Autoimmune Disorders in Celiac Disease. Duration of exposure to gluten and risk for autoimmune disorders in patients with celiac disease. Gastroenterology. 1999;117:297–303.


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