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Gluten

If gluten is a major trigger for IBS, it expands the gluten-related disorders by adding a new entity now referred to as non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). Indeed, coeliac disease-like abnormalities were reported in a subgroup of patients with IBS many years ago.

A recent expert group of researchers reached unanimous consensus attesting the existence of a syndrome triggered by gluten ingestion. This syndrome recognises a wide spectrum of symptoms and manifestations including an IBS-like phenotype, along with an extra-intestinal phenotype, that is, malaise, fatigue, headache, numbness, mental confusion (‘brain fog’), anxiety, sleep abnormalities, fibromyalgia-like symptoms and skin rash. In addition, other possible clinical features include gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, aphthous stomatitis, anaemia, depression, asthma and rhinitis.

Symptoms or other manifestations occur shortly after gluten consumption and disappear or recur in a few hours (or days) after gluten withdrawal or challenge. A fundamental prerequisite for suspecting NCGS is to rule out all the established gluten/wheat disorders, comprising coeliac disease (CD), gluten ataxia, dermatitis herpetiformis and wheat allergy.

The major issue not addressed by the consensus opinion was that gluten is only one protein contained within wheat. Other proteins, such as amylase-trypsin inhibitors (ATIs), are strong activators of innate immune responses in monocytes, macrophages and dendritic cells.

Furthermore, wheat germ agglutinin, which has epithelial-damaging and immune effects at very low doses at least in vitro, might also contribute to both intestinal and extraintestinal manifestations of NCGS.

modified from (Roberto De Giorgio; Umberto Volta; Peter R Gibson)

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