Gluten Isn't the Only Culprit in Celiac Disease, Study Says

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THURSDAY, Nov. 6, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- It's known that gluten -- found in wheat, rye and barley -- is the cause of health problems in people with celiac disease. Now, new research suggests these folks may also react to non-gluten wheat proteins.

The discovery could improve understanding of celiac disease and how to treat it, the researchers said.

A large number of people with celiac disease had an immune reaction to five groups of non-gluten proteins, they reported recently in the Journal of Proteome Research.

The results highlight the need for research into treatments for celiac disease that take non-gluten proteins into account, the researchers said.

Gluten proteins -- which account for about 75 percent of all proteins in wheat -- trigger an immune reaction in people with celiac disease. This results in symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, anemia and nutritional deficiencies.

Currently, the only recommended treatment is to avoid foods with gluten. The role of non-gluten proteins in celiac disease has been largely ignored, the study authors noted.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about celiac disease.