To better understand what’s going on with our bodies, we’ve called on Dr. Chad Larson from Cyrex Laboratories to answer some of our most burning questions concerning testing for celiac disease.
Here’s what he had to say
Is non-celiac Gluten sensitivity (ncGs) a pre-cursor to celiac disease?
NCGS is a separate and distinct condition from celiac disease (CD). While both conditions include the key common denominator of an inappropriate immune response to gluten, celiac disease is a specific autoimmune condition where immune cells and autoantibodies cause inflammation and destruction of the villi of the small intestine.
NCGS can lead to many of the same symptoms as CD but without the autoimmune laboratory findings and the total villous atrophy of the intestine.
We know that celiac disease is linked to other autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes, and that if left untreated can lead to serious health complications. if someone has ncGs are they at the same risk for other conditions as someone with celiac disease if they don’t comply with the gluten-free diet?
The classic symptom presentation of NCGS can include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, headache, fatigue, joint and muscle pain, brain fog, arm or hand numbness, dermatitis, depression and anemia. Although NCGS can lead to multi-systemic symptoms, it is less likely than CD to be related to other autoimmune conditions.
We often hear from patients who feel like they are in limbo of a diagnosis. Their antibody levels are just slightly elevated so their doctors don’t think they have celiac. What could it mean if a patient has low positive levels? Could they still have celiac?
Antibody levels need to be considered with the rest of the clinical profile. In other words, if the autoimmune markers are low positive but the rest of the clinical picture is strongly indicative of CD, more comprehensive testing can be considered, such as the Cyrex Lab’s Array 3. Only 50% of those with CD test positive to the conventional CD lab markers. Researchers suggest testing multigliadin peptides to uncover atypical CD cases, and the Array 3 is the answer to that call.
Can you explain the differences between celiac disease, ncGs, a gluten allergy and a wheat allergy? Are there different tests for each?
When speaking about gluten there is a lot of misinformation about allergies, sensitivities, intolerance and CD. They are all separate health issues with varying severity. NCGS is a diagnosed immune reaction indicating loss of tolerance to the presence of gluten, potentially leading to a complex array of health consequences. Intolerance refers to a body?s inability to break down gluten in the digestive process. A gluten allergy is defined as the body reacting to gluten as if it is a dangerous protein, and likewise a wheat allergy is an acute immune reaction to the whole grain of wheat. Generally allergies will clear up after exposure to the allergen has ended and leaves no lasting damage done to the body.
CD is an autoimmune disorder where the mucosal immune system mounts an abnormal response that attacks the small intestine. In this attack, antibodies damage the villi of the small intestine. Villi are the small finger-like structures that help promote nutrient absorption from food. Those with CD who ingest even a small amount of gluten are at risk for small intestine damage. Gluten immune reactivity from CD can express in nearly every organ system, including the skin and other body regions, like the brain, liver and thyroid. Testing for all types of gluten reactivity can begin with a simple blood test, like Cyrex Lab’s Array 3, currently the most comprehensive gluten evaluation available.