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Mouse study suggests new chemical clues to coeliac disease

A study at the University of Chicago has found two chemical signals, interleukin 15 (IL-15) and retinoic acid, which are triggers for the inflammatory response to gluten. Elevated levels of IL-15 in the gut could initiate all the early stages of coeliac disease, and blocking IL-15 could prevent coeliac disease from developing.

Bana Jabri, associate professor of medicine and pathology, co-director of the Digestive Disease Research Core Center and a member of the Celiac Disease Center and Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Chicago and researchers combined insights and data from coeliac disease patients, with a mouse model of the disease developed in the laboratory. They knew that coeliac patients had high levels of IL-15 in their intestines, and when they raised levels of IL-15 in mouse intestines, the mice all developed the early symptoms of coeliac disease. Adding retinoic acid made the symptoms worse, suggesting that the treatment of inflammatory intestinal diseases with vitamin A and its retinoic acid metabolites will do more harm than good. When the researchers blocked IL-15, the mice reverted to normal and were able to tolerate gluten again.

Clinical trials of medications that block IL-15 are currently being done with patients with rheumatoid arthritis, another autoimmune disease. Early results are encouraging.

Source: University of Chicago


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