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World J Gastroenterol. 2007 Sep 21;13(35):4784-5.

Can Campylobacter jejuni play a role in development of celiac disease? A hypothesis.


Celiac disease (CD) is an entropathy with malabsortive condition in which an allergic reaction to the cereal grain-protein (gluten) causes small intestine mucosal injury. CD is a multifactorial disorder in which both genetic and environmental factors contribute to the disease development. Mechanisms have been described to explain the pathology of CD. T cells specific for multiple gluten peptides are found in virtually all patients. Generation of such a broad T cell response may be a prerequisite for disease development. CD is associated with multiple extraintestinal presentations, including neurological deficits. Recent studies have shown a significant correlation between anti-ganglioside antibodies and neurological disorders in patients with underlying CD. Gangliosides are glycosphingolipids which are abundant in nervous system and in other tissues including gastrointestinal tract. It is not known what triggers the release of anti-ganglioside antibodies in people with gluten sensitivity. But, the mechanism is likely to involve the intestinal immune system response to ingested gliadin, a component of wheat gluten. Studies showed that mechanisms different from gluten exposure may be implicated in antibody formation, and other environmental factors may also exist. In addition, considering the fact that genetic predisposition dysregulating mucosal immune responses in the presence of certain environmental triggers like gastrointestinal infections may be strong etiological factors for developing chronic intestinal inflammation including CD, the hypothesis raised in our mind that antiganglioside antibody formation in CD may play a role not only in development of neurological complications in celiac patients, but also in development of CD itself. As presence of Campylobacter jejuni in other diseases with antigangliosides antibody formation has been established, we propose the possible role of Campylobacter jejuni in development of CD in association with other genetic and environmental factors by the mechanism that molecular mimicry of gangliosides-like epitopes common to both lipo-polysacharide coats of certain strains of Campylobacter jejuni and gangliosides in cell structure of gastrointestinal mucosa may cause an autoimmune response and consequently lead to atrophy and degeneration of mucosa possibly by apoptosis.

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