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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Small- bowel mucosal changes and antibody responses after low- and moderate-dose gluten challenge in celiac disease

Marja-Leena Lähdeaho1, Markku Mäki1, Kaija Laurila1, Heini Huhtala2 and Katri Kaukinen3*

Author Affiliations

1 Paediatric Research Centre and School of Medicine, University of Tampere and Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland

2 School of Health Sciences, University of Tampere, Finland

3 Department of Gastroenterology and Alimentary Tract Surgery, Tampere University Hospital and School of Medicine, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland

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BMC Gastroenterology 2011, 11:129  doi:10.1186/1471-230X-11-129

Published: 24 November 2011

Abstract

Background

Due to the restrictive nature of a gluten-free diet, celiac patients are looking for alternative therapies. While drug-development programs include gluten challenges, knowledge regarding the duration of gluten challenge and gluten dosage is insufficient.

We challenged adult celiac patients with gluten with a view to assessing the amount needed to cause some small-bowel mucosal deterioration.

Methods

Twenty-five celiac disease adults were challenged with low (1-3 g) or moderate (3-5g) doses of gluten daily for 12 weeks. Symptoms, small-bowel morphology, densities of CD3+ intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs) and celiac serology were determined.

Results

Both moderate and low amounts of gluten induced small-bowel morphological damage in 67% of celiac patients. Moderate gluten doses also triggered mucosal inflammation and more gastrointestinal symptoms leading to premature withdrawals in seven cases. In 22% of those who developed significant small- intestinal damage, symptoms remained absent. Celiac antibodies seroconverted in 43% of the patients.

Conclusions

Low amounts of gluten can also cause significant mucosal deterioration in the majority of the patients. As there are always some celiac disease patients who will not respond within these conditions, sample sizes must be sufficiently large to attain to statistical power in analysis.