Alteration of White Blood Cell Population by Chronic Inflammation May Underlie Long-Term Gluten Sensitivity of Celiac Disease Patients

Chronic gluten-associated inflammation has recently been demonstrated to alter the profile of intraepithelial resident memory T cells to promote gluten sensitivity.

Photomicrograph depicts the cytoarchitecture exhibited by a section of intestinal epithelial mucosal that had been excised from an individual with gluten-induced enteropathy. Source: CDC


Chronic gluten-associated inflammation has recently been demonstrated to alter the profile of intraepithelial resident memory T cells, a white blood cell subset capable of surviving independently within the intestinal tissue for extended periods of time, to engender the long-term gluten sensitivity characteristic of Celiac Disease.

Researchers at the University of Chicago found that chronic gluten-induced inflammation resulted in the widespread depletion of a particular intraepithelial resident memory T cell population from the intestines, eventually leading to its replacement by a different group of pro-inflammatory gluten-sensitive T cells. Cessation of gluten exposure for extended periods of time was insufficient to restore the immune cell profile to a normal state, perhaps accounting for the chronic gluten sensitivity of Celiac Disease patients.

This publication may highlight the importance of early Celiac Disease diagnosis and immunosuppressive therapy, to resolve damaging intestinal inflammation before this transition of T cell populations occurs. Future methods of selectively eliminating pathogenic resident memory T cell populations from the intestinal epithelium may show promise for the treatment of Celiac Disease.

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Mayassi T, Ladell K, Gudjonson H, et al. (2019) Chronic Inflammation Permanently Reshapes Tissue-Resident Immunity in Celiac Disease. Cell, 176(5):P967-981. https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(18)31653-2?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS0092867418316532%3Fshowall%3Dtrue