Link Between Gluten and ALS (Lou Gherig’s Disease)?

Researchers from Israel think gluten could cause a syndrome that looks like ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. This disease attacks nerves and pathways in the brain and spinal cord and eventually causes paralysis and death.

Researchers think there might be a link here and it would not surprise me due to the neurological complications that are sometimes seen in those with Celiac Disease because 45% of those with Celiac also develop antibodies to TG6. Although, many more studies need to be done.  Below is what appeared in Rueters from JAMA Nuerology online 4/13/15.

“Dr Vivian Drory and her team of researchers from Tel Aviv Medical Center found antibodies to an enzyme produced in the brain, called tissue transglutaminase 6 (TG6), in 23 out of 150 patients with ALS, compared with only five of 115 healthy volunteers. Furthermore, the concentrations of those antibodies were higher in the ALS patients.

Antibodies to another transglutaminase, TG2, are produced by people with celiac disease when they eat gluten, a protein in wheat, barley and rye.

About 45 percent of patients with celiac disease also produce antibodies to TG6, even when they have no neurological symptoms. (In some patients, gluten sensitivity can cause neurological problems, and many of those patients do have antibodies toward TG6.)

The authors report in JAMA Neurology that ALS patients with antibodies to TG6 showed the classic picture of ALS and the typical rate of disease progression. The volunteers with antibodies to TG6 showed no signs of any disease.

None of the ALS patients or volunteers had the antibodies to TG2 that are commonly associated with celiac disease, although the ALS patients were more likely than the volunteers to show the genetic mutations that put them at risk for celiac disease.

Drory said her team has begun to study TG6 antibody levels in patients newly diagnosed with ALS, and they will be testing the effects of a gluten-free diet in some of those that test positive. She expects it will be “at least 2 more years” before they have any results.”

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