The study, published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, investigated the effects of gluten on intestinal antioxidant and detoxifying defences in vitro and in vivo – and examined the potentially protective effects of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) against gluten-induced toxicity in the small intestine.
The Italian research team reported that the gluten protein gliadin has pro-oxidant activity, and demonstrated “for the first time, its in vivo ability to down-regulate crucial intestinal defences.” The team added that CLA was found to block the suppression of these intestinal defences.
“We have identified a novel mechanism by which gluten perturbs several pivotal intestinal defences and we have discovered the potential therapeutic efficacy of CLA against gluten-mediated toxicity,” said the researchers, led by Dr. Paolo Bergamo of the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR-ISA), Italy.
Celiac disease is not an allergy or food intolerance, but an autoimmune disease, where the body's immune system attacks its own tissues – the chronic disease is thought to be a result of both genetic and environmental factors that lead to an autoimmune reaction triggered by the protein components of gluten (gliadins and glutenins).
Celiac disease is the most common food-sensitive gut disorder in humans, with an incidence as high as 1 in 100 to 1 in 300 among the European and North American population.
Bergamo and his team noted that similarly to omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) “has been recognized to promote beneficial effects in animal models of several pathologies, including inflammatory, autoimmune diseases, and experimentally induced colitis.”
The Italian researchers evaluated the involvement of nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor2 (Nrf2) – an important transcription factor for the synthesis of antioxidant and detoxifying enzymes – in gliadin-mediated toxicity in human intestinal cells and in gliadin-sensitive transgenic mice, and the protective activity of CLA.
The researchers reported that dietary gluten produces deleterious effects on several crucial intestinal defence mechanisms, but does not affect the pathological signs associated with celiac disease.
They noted that such an observation is “consistent with the hypothesis that gluten exposure may represent only a predisposing factor for further undetermined insults.”
Bergamo and his colleagues added that CLA hampered the gliadin induced alterations in intestinal defence mechanisms caused by gliadin.
“The beneficial effects of CLA against the depletion of crucial intestinal cytoprotective defences indicates a novel nutritional approach for the treatment of intestinal disease,” they added.
Source: Molecular Nutrition & Food Research
Volume 55, Issue Supplement 2, pages S248–S256, doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201100295
“Conjugated linoleic acid protects against gliadin-induced depletion of intestinal defenses”
Authors: P. Bergamo, M. Gogliettino, G. Palmieri, E. Cocca, F. Maurano, et al