Gluten May Play Role in Triggering Type 1 Diabetes

Journal of Immunization – Abstract

Celiac disease  is frequently diagnosed in patients with type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes patients can exhibit Abs against tissue transglutaminase, the auto-antigen in Celiac Disease. Thus, gliadin, the trigger in Celiac Disease, has been suggested to have a role in type 1 diabetes pathogenesis.


Gliadin, a simple protein, one of the prolamines, is derived from the gluten of wheat, rye, etc. May be separated into 4 discrete electrophoretic fractions. It is the toxic factor associated with Celiac Disease.

The objective of this study was to investigate whether gliadin contributes to enteropathy and insulitis in NOD-DQ8 mice, an animal model that does not spontaneously develop type 1 diabetes. Gliadin-sensitized NOD-DQ8 mice developed moderate enteropathy, intraepithelial lymphocytosis, and barrier dysfunction, but not insulitis. Administration of anti-CD25 mAbs before gliadin-sensitization induced partial depletion of CD25(+)Foxp3(+) T cells and led to severe insulitis, but did not exacerbate mucosal dysfunction. CD4(+) T cells isolated from pancreatic lymph nodes of mice that developed insulitis showed increased proliferation and proinflammatory cytokines after incubation with gliadin but not with BSA. CD4(+) T cells isolated from non-sensitized controls did not response to gliadin or BSA.

In conclusion, gliadin sensitization induced moderate enteropathy in NOD-DQ8 mice. However, insulitis development required gliadin-sensitization and partial systemic depletion of CD25(+)Foxp3(+) T cells. This humanized murine model provides a mechanistic link to explain how the mucosal intolerance to a dietary protein can lead to insulitis in the presence of partial regulatory T cell deficiency.

J Immunol. 2011 Oct 15;187(8):4338-46.


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