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Common virus may be celiac disease culprit

Viral interaction with gluten may send wrong signal to immune system, mouse study finds

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2:03pm, April 6, 2017
reovirus

A VIRAL TRIGGER A reovirus (illustrated here) may jump-start celiac disease by turning the immune system against gluten, a new study in mice suggests.

A common and usually harmless virus may trigger celiac disease. Infection with the suspected culprit, a reovirus, could cause the immune system to react to gluten as if it was a dangerous pathogen instead of a harmless food protein, an international team of researchers reports April 7 in Science.

In a study in mice, the researchers found that the reovirus, T1L, tricks the immune system into mounting an attack against innocent food molecules. The virus first blocks the immune system’s regulatory response that usually gives non-native substances, like food proteins, the OK, Terence Dermody, a virologist at the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues found. Then the virus prompts a harmful inflammatory response.

“Viruses have been suspected as potential triggers of autoimmune or food allergy–related diseases for decades,” says Herbert Virgin, a viral immunologist at

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