A protein in wheat linked to inflammation of chronic health conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus

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amylase-trypsin inhibitors, inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, arthritis digest magazineA protein in wheat may trigger the inflammation of chronic health conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, and contributes towards the development of non-coeliac gluten sensitivity, says research presented at United Europe in Gastroenterology Week 2016.

Lots of previous studies have looked at the impact of gluten on digestive health. Now a different family of proteins in wheat is under the spotlight: amylase-trypsin inhibitors (ATIs).

ATIs make up around 4% of wheat proteins, but can trigger immune reactions in the gut that can then spread to other tissues in the body, the research group reveals. Consuming ATIs can lead to inflammation in tissues beyond the gut, including the lymph nodes, kidneys, spleen and brain. It seems that ATIs can worsen the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, asthma, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and inflammatory bowel disease.

Lead researcher, Prof Detlef Schuppan comments:

“As well as contributing to the development of bowel-related inflammatory conditions, we believe that ATIs can promote inflammation of other immune-related chronic conditions outside of the bowel. The type of gut inflammation seen in non-coeliac gluten sensitivity differs from that caused by coeliac disease, and we do not believe that this is triggered by gluten proteins. Instead, we demonstrated that ATIs from wheat, that are also contaminating commercial gluten, activate specific types of immune cells in the gut and other tissues, thereby potentially worsening the symptoms of pre-existing inflammatory illnesses”.

Clinical studies will now explore the role that ATIs play on chronic health conditions in more detail.

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