The presence of gluten-free food in restaurants and supermarkets has become much more prominent over the years. It's definitely a trend, but what is 'gluten' anyway?
Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat and some other cereals. Apart from the claims that a gluten-free diet is 'healthier,' going gluten-free is the solution for individuals who are sensitive to gluten. Gluten sensitivity is a key characteristic of Celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disorder that can lead to damage to your digestive system. Of course, you do not have to have Celiac disease to be sensitive to gluten - you could be allergic or gluten-intolerant.
In Rubicz et al.'s (2014) genome-wide association analysis involving 1367 Mexican Americans, they discovered a couple of gene loci at the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) region that were significantly associated with the production of anti-gliadin antibodies.
Anti-gliadin antibodies are antibodies that trigger an immune response to gliadin, a component of gluten. In addition to this, they also looked at gene loci associated with Celiac disease (which were found in previously published literature) to see how these may be associated with gliadin. Interestingly, Rubicz et al. found that one gene locus that has previously been linked to Celiac disease is associated with anti-gliadin antibody levels. All this evidence seems to say that the genetic factors influencing anti-gliadin antibody production is key to understanding gluten sensitivity and Celiac disease.
While this study is limited in that it did not use dietary information to examine the relationship between the amount of gluten-containing food consumption and antibody production, Rubicz et al. report this interesting preliminary finding from which further investigations can be started. To get the full details, check out the study here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24962563
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