It has been thought that coeliac disease in children differs from that seen in adults. However, a new study by researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and The Royal Melbourne Hospital has shown that that children with coeliac disease reacted against the same key toxic proteins in gluten that cause the disease in adults.
More than 40 children (median age 9 years) with biopsy-proven coeliac disease and on a gluten-free diet for at least three months, were put on a three-day diet containing gluten. Blood samples were collected and gluten-specific T cells were measured to see how their immune system reacted when gluten was reintroduced into their diet.
Results from 30 of the children showed that the T cells recognized the same peptides that were immunogenic to adults with coeliac disease. These findings suggest new treatments and diagnostic tests in development for adults with coeliac disease will also be applicable for children with the condition.
The research was supported by Coeliac Australia, the National Health and Medical Research Council and ImmusanT.
Reference: Hardy et al. 2015 Gastroenterology. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2015.07.013