How could probiotic bifidobacteria help celiac disease patients?

Of late, there’s a boom in the interest within the human microbiome and its interplay with the host and this has provided new insights on its role in conferring host protection and regulating host physiology, including the right development of immunity. The balance of those flora within our guts has been linked towards the metabolism and normal physiology of its host (us). However with an imbalance, comes the distress which will severely impact someone’s quality of life, especially in people stricken by Celiac Disease. 

Celiac disease (CD) is a lifelong immune mediated enteropathy initiated by exposure to dietary gluten in individuals carrying certain genetic predisposition towards it. It’s still under rigorous study and a few researchers have gone far to prove that there’s a link between how a baby was born (i.e. vaginal delivery vs a C-section), and the way breastfeeding could have a task in causing an individual to develop the disorder. 

Simply put, Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease(the immune system of host attacks itself) that damages the inner linings of the small intestine when gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, is consumed.Therefore, it makes perfect sense for people with celiac disease to stick to a strict diet for them to be safe of indigestion symptoms or what we call “celiac sprue” since in their gut, there’s an absence of balance between the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacterias. A balance if present, results in the ability for us humans to digest food properly. 

However, following a strict-gluten free diet is only partially effective in restoring a perfect gut microbiota. Indeed, while higher numbers of Enterobacteria or Staphylococci are restored, other alterations like decreased Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli(good bacteria) and increased Bacteroides, Enterobacteriaceae and virulent E. coli(bad bacteria)  still are persistent. 

Some researchers also believe that a strict-gluten free diet itself is that the reason for this imbalance because it decreases the intake of polysaccharides present inside gluten-rich foods which has prebiotic (indigestible dietary fibre which feed the good intestinal bacteria) action and constitute one amongst the many energy sources for the gut microbiota resulting in suboptimal populations of beneficial gut bacteria. 

This imbalance, particularly within the number of Bifidobacteria spp., has led many researchers from everywhere around the globe to investigate the results of supplementing Bifidobacteria spp as a probiotic (live organisms to promote gut health). The thought behind the research is that, if someone is deficient in a certain bacteria then it’s logical that we offer them with what they lack. A team from Brazil assessed the effect of 4 bacterial strains (singularly and in groups) of the identical species on the digestion of intact gluten proteins (gliadins and glutenins) and the associated immunomodulatory responses elicited by the resulting peptides. 

They have found that, among the 4, those from the B. longum strain caused the least harm to intestinal cells. Bifidobacterium longum chopped up gluten proteins into the most fragments, compared to the other strains and the mixture of all four strains, without causing as much damage towards the intestinal tissues when compared between them. 

This proves that there’s a clinically proven role for probiotics like with Bifidobacteria spp in controlling gluten-mediated inflammation within the gut and ameliorating clinical symptoms and with an ever-increasing rate of individuals switching to a gluten-free diet, there should be made efforts to incorporate them in clinicians’ strategic plan for treating disorder sufferers or else using medicine like apo-azathioprine.

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