Is Wheat Breeding a Possible Cause of the Rise in Celiac Disease Prevalence?

August 5, 2010

Is Wheat Breeding a Possible Cause of the Rise in Celiac Prevalence?


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Modern breeding practices may have increased exposure, but they could also help reduce toxicity.


Scientists know that celiac disease is on the rise – research clearly indicates an increase in prevalence and the diagnostic tests have been improved remarkably in recent years.

One theory behind the increase in prevalence is the wheat breeding practice and a group of researchers from the Netherlands set out to determine if such a link exists. The researchers studied the diversity of gluten proteins for the presence of two epitopes specific to celiac disease. The groups’ findings, which are published in last month’s Theoretical and Applied Genetics, suggest that not only may modern wheat breeding practices have increased the exposure to celiac disease epitopes, but that perhaps the current wheat breeding practices can be modified to reduce the toxicity of celiac disease in certain epitopes.

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