Type 1 Diabetes Linked To Immune Response To Wheat

Type 1 Diabetes Linked To Immune Response To Wheat

ScienceDaily (Aug. 20, 2009) — Scientists at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and the University of Ottawa have discovered what may be an important clue to the cause of type 1 diabetes. Dr. Fraser Scott and his team tested 42 people with type 1 diabetes and found that nearly half had an abnormal immune response to wheat proteins. The study is published in the August 2009 issue of the journal Diabetes.

Early in life, the immune system is supposed to learn to attack foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria, while leaving the body’s own tissues and harmless molecules in the environment alone (including food in the gut). When this process goes awry, autoimmune diseases and allergies can develop. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the pancreas, the organ that regulates blood sugar. Dr. Scott’s research is the first to clearly show that immune cells called T cells from people with type 1 diabetes are also more likely to over-react to wheat. His research also shows that the over-reaction is linked to genes associated with type 1 diabetes.

“The immune system has to find the perfect balance to defend the body against foreign invaders without hurting itself or over-reacting to the environment and this can be particularly challenging in the gut, where there is an abundance of food and bacteria,” said Dr. Scott, a Senior Scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and Professor of Medicine at the University of Ottawa. “Our research suggests that people with certain genes may be more likely to develop an over-reaction to wheat and possibly other foods in the gut and this may tip the balance with the immune system and make the body more likely to develop other immune problems, such as type 1 diabetes.”

In a commentary accompanying the paper, diabetes expert Dr. Mikael Knip of Finland said “These observations add to the accumulating concept that the gut is an active player in the diabetes disease process.”

Dr. Scott’s previous research has shown that a wheat-free diet can reduce the risk of developing diabetes in animal models, but he notes that more research will be required to confirm the link and determine possible effects of diet changes in humans. Research is also needed to investigate links with celiac disease, another autoimmune disease that has been linked to wheat.

This research was funded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The authors include Dr. Majid Mojibian, Dr. Habiba Chakir, Dr. David E. Lefebvre, Jennifer A. Crookshank, Brigitte Sonier and Dr. Erin Keely, as well as Dr. Scott. Patients were enrolled at The Ottawa Hospital and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

An estimated 246 million people have diabetes worldwide. Type 1 diabetes is the most severe form, representing about 10 per cent of all cases. Insulin injections can help control blood sugar levels in those affected but there is no cure.


For those type 1’s who are interested in the cause of the disease, the scientists may be getting closer…

Thanks for sharing article Michelle:) Good info. Just a show of hands…how many have been tested for Celiac?? Have never had a doc discuss w/ me! My most recent doc = a researcher, sent me a study questionnaire asking me if I had been diagnosed w/ (or anyone in my family have) any of the following: MS/lupus/Celiac/allergic rhinitis/atopic dermatitis/Sojogrens/rheumatoid arthritis/Graves/hypothryoid/addisons/pernicious anemia/alopecia/autoimmune inner ear disease/colitis/Crohn’s/etc. Point being…lots of manifestations of autoimmune diseases that may be related in etiology and manifestation of diabetes. I plan on getting tested in Chicago this fall…they have a free screening at University of Chicago Celiac Center. Pretty certain I do…have stopped having odd GI symptoms when I stopped eating gluten.

This is interesting!

But, in addition to Rainbowgoddess’ point, I also wonder about the people who KNOW that they are Celiac and they don’t eat wheat. They continue to have type 1 diabetes. So stopping eating wheat doesn’t seem like a cure.

I’m glad that this type of research is going on!

I was tested for Celiac and it came back negative. But I heard that the blood tests aren’t that reliable.

I expect that this is not the ONLY cause of Type 1 diabetes. Can’t really say if it had anything to do with my case, but I’ve eaten wheat bread (when I eat bread) for all 59 years of my life and don’t have any problems with it. I can also say for sure that I seemed to develop it as a result of a viral infection, as has been given as a reason for new diabetics. This is from many viruses that look only slightly different from Beta cells, and both are killed off by the body.
I can even prove it, since I have a scar on my chest (or neck) fro the tracheotomy they had to do to get air past the phlegm clogging my throat caused by the virus, perhaps Coxsackie B or whatever.

I prefer spelt pasta than wheat. Feels less heavy on the stomach, much less gluten, high fibre, more complex carbs and much more protein! It is an ancient grain which dates back to biblical times and is mentioned in the old testemant. Wheat has been modified to produce higher yeild.