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Diabetologia. 2005 May;48(5):931-7. Epub 2005 Apr 14.

Small intestinal enteropathy in non-obese diabetic mice fed a diet containing wheat.

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Institute of Food Science, CNR, via Roma 52 A/C, 83100 Avellino, Italy.



A deranged mucosal immune response and dietary factors may play an important role in the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes. The aims of our work were to look for the presence of small intestinal enteropathy in non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice in relation to the presence of wheat proteins in the diet, and to assess their role in the risk of developing diabetes.


Female NOD mice were fed a standard or gluten-free diet or a gluten-free diet with the addition of wheat proteins (MGFD). Small intestine architecture, intraepithelial CD3(+) infiltration, epithelial expression of H2-IA, mRNA for IFN-gamma and IL-4 were assessed.


NOD mice fed a standard diet showed reduced villous height, increased intraepithelial infiltration by CD3(+) cells and enhanced expression of H2-IA and IFN-gamma mRNA when compared with mice on the gluten-free diet. The cumulative diabetes incidence at 43 weeks of age was 65% in the latter and 97% in the former (p<0.01). Mice on MGFD also showed increased epithelial infiltration and a higher incidence of diabetes.


Mice fed a wheat-containing diet showed a higher incidence of diabetes, signs of small intestinal enteropathy and higher mucosal levels of proinflammatory cytokines.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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