By Allergen Bureau

Coeliac disease has a signature, and it may be present in infancy

Distinctive markers of coeliac disease have been found in infants aged one year, up to 19 years before they were diagnosed with coeliac disease.

The All Babies In Sweden (ABIS) prospective cohort study includes data from babies born between October 1997 and October 1999 in five countries of south east Sweden. Blood, stool, urine and hair samples were collected from the participants at birth, 1, 2½-3 and 5-6 years. Initial questionnaires and follow up via the National Patient Registry provide further data, with the most recent update having occurred in 2021.

To explore early gut microbial imbalances correlated with future coeliac disease, a team of researchers analysed the stool samples collected from 1478 one year old infants from the ABIS study. Twenty-six of these later acquired coeliac disease. The average age of diagnosis was around 10 years, although some were up to 20 years old when diagnosed.

Prevalence differences in nine core microbes and seven differentially abundant bacteria were found when comparing the gut microbiome profiles of infants who developed coeliac disease with those of the controls. The differences were validated using 100 separate, iterative permutations of matched controls, which suggests the bacterial signatures are significant in those who develop future coeliac disease, even when accounting for the inherent variability in a general population.

While changes in the gut microbiome have been identified as markers of coeliac disease in the past, this is the first known study to identify a microbial signature so far in advance of diagnosis in the general population.

Reference: Milletich et al. 2022.  Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology. DOI: 10.3389/fcimb.2022.920735. Access the full article here.