Potential Cause of Atypical Celiac Disease Determined

According to findings published in Stem Cells, Intestinal homeostasis could be one of the mechanisms responsible for atypical celiac disease and colorectal cancer.

According to findings published in Stem Cells, Intestinal homeostasis could be one of the mechanisms responsible for atypical celiac disease and colorectal cancer.

Researchers from the University of Tampere in Finland set out to demonstrate the difference in the defective epithelial cells in the small intestine which cause celiac disease. The researchers noted that in typical celiac disease, ingesting gluten causes intestinal mucosal damage with the villus atrophy and crypt hyperplasia. This means the epithelial cells are not as different and hyper proliferative in the run up to not being able to absorb nutrients. They explained in a press release, that epithelial cells are not as different and hyper proliferative in the run up to not being able to absorb nutrients.

The researchers learned that Polycomb, a specific epigenetic mechanism, monitors the intestinal homeostasis in the crypt and allowed for the differentiated epithelium in the villi.

"Polycomb is well known for its function to regulate embryonic development,” said principal investigator Keijo Viiri, adding that polycomb prevents the genes from doing their job when they hinder the part of the genes that host the DNA. “We discovered that polycomb is also able to regulate the homeostasis of the small intestine in adults. The regulation of intestinal homeostasis is a tremendous task as the epithelium of the intestine needs to be replenished completely every four or five days.”

The study authors said their findings demonstrated that when gluten was ingested, the extra polycomb activity leads the pathogenesis of the intestinal damage in celiac disease off its regular track. The investigators also found out that something similar happens in colorectal cancer: the polycomb genes are also left unregulated.

Finally, the authors believe that Polycomb irregularity is to blame for the development of abnormal cases of celiac disease and possibly colorectal cancer.

Related Coverage:

Not Everyone Predisposed to Celiac Disease Develops It

Celiac Disease Prevalent Among US Patients of Punjabi Descent

Feeding Babies Gluten May Increase Risks for Celiac Disease