BEACON TRANSCRIPT – A new research developed by scientists from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Chicago discovered that the common reovirus might cause celiac disease. This usually harmless virus might be the trigger to an immune response to gluten, which eventually leads to celiac disease.
The study was published in the journal Science and it claims that viruses might have a contribution to the development of autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes and celiac disease. This is important, since it analyzes the possibility of being able to prevent these diseases by developing vaccines against them.
Are harmless viruses actually harmless?
Also, the study brings into attention the fact that a virus which was regarded as harmless can have terrible consequences on certain people. However, this is strongly dependent on the host as well, and how his health may influence the interaction between the virus and other cells in the body.
Celiac disease is estimated to affect many people in the United States, and a lot of them are not even diagnosed. This disease triggers an acute immune response to gluten, a protein found in rye and wheat. This response causes damage on the small intestine. The disease has no cure, so the patient has to give up gluten from his diet.
Now, researchers discovered that there might be viruses hiding in the small intestine which cause it to have such a harsh reaction to gluten. They used two different strains of the reovirus to see if there are any differences in their effect on the intestine.
Reovirus might lead to an immune response to gluten
Both these strains triggered good immunity, so they did not lead to the development of disease. They also administered these viruses to mice, and observed a peculiar response. One common strain of reovirus usually found in humans caused an immune response similar to celiac disease. On the contrary, the other strain had no such effect.
Moreover, scientists found that celiac disease patients showed a high percentage of reovirus antibodies. Besides, they also expressed the IRF1 gene, which is linked to gluten intolerance. Therefore, if a person gets infected with a reovirus, their immune system might suffer and it might prepare the body for celiac disease.
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