Top 5 research news stories from Beyond Celiac in 2020

January 13, 2021

Celiac disease related neurological symptoms lead the list

By Amy Ratner, Director Scientific Affairs

A story about celiac-disease-related brain damage detected by brain scans was the most popular Beyond Celiac research news post from 2020.

A post about COVID-19 and celiac disease also made it onto a list of the top five research news articles. That’s not surprising in a year in which nearly every aspect of life was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic that spread across the globe, keeping people in their homes and making masks nearly standard whenever they ventured out.

The top 5 stories of the year also included news about developments with a drug to treat celiac disease, the role of probiotics in celiac disease and new evidence that gluten is commonly found even in a strict gluten-free diet.

Here’s a full list, which was determined by the number of views received by research news posts on the Beyond Celiac website.

  1. Brain images show celiac disease related damage
  2. Latiglutenase improves symptoms and quality of life in some patients

  3. Probiotics may play a role in the treatment of celiac disease in the future

  4.  Beyond Celiac survey on coping with celiac disease and COVID-19

  5. Evidence gluten gets into even a strict gluten-free diet

Brain Imagining

The brain imaging study by researchers at the University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK, used brain scans designed to detect minute changes in the brain’s white matter. They found that people with celiac disease appeared to have suffered some injury in locations including the brainstem, thalamus and corpus callosum. Researchers attributed the neurological damage to gluten exposure, including inadvertent exposure in those following the gluten-free diet.

“The neuropsychiatric symptoms of celiac disease are among the most misunderstood of all the ways this disease affects a person,” said Salvo Alesci, MD, Beyond Celiac chief scientist and strategy officer. “Those who have celiac disease are naturally interested in any information they can find about these complications.”

Drug Development

The drug development story detailed how an analysis of latiglutenase clinical trial results showed that patients who had positive blood tests for celiac disease antibodies and took the drug showed improvement in some symptoms and in quality of life. Latiglutenase is made of a combination of two enzymes that are designed to degrade gluten in the stomach and deactivate the protein that is harmful to those who have celiac disease. Beyond Celiac is currently helping to recruit patients for ongoing study of this celiac disease treatment option.


The attention-getting story about probiotics described a review of existing studies that suggests probiotics may have the potential to help celiac disease patients. Possible roles for probiotics include improving symptoms, modulating the immune response and altering the composition of bacteria in the gut microbiome. The study was done by researchers from the University of Parma in Italy.

The Italian study review emphasized that much more investigation is needed to determine which probiotics, in what doses and for how long would be beneficial in celiac disease.


The frequently viewed COVID-19 post described initial results of a Go Beyond Celiac survey that collected data about the impact of COVID-19 on those who have celiac disease. The survey was launched early in the pandemic and reflected the fear among those with celiac disease that gluten-free products would be in short supply. Both that survey and another collecting information from those with celiac disease who have had COVID-19 symptoms or testing remain open at Go Beyond Celiac.

Gluten in the diet

The final spot in the Beyond Celiac top five goes to a story about a study that found celiac disease patients frequently get gluten in their gluten-free diets. The conclusion was reached based on evidence of gluten exposure in urine and stool samples.

Study participant had been on the gluten-free diet for more than two years and considered themselves to be following it strictly. They collected stool and urine samples for four weeks. Tests for gluten immunogenic peptides (GIP) were then used to measure how much gluten was in the samples. The study by researchers from Argentina, Canada and El Salvador found that participants were exposed to gluten a median of three times.

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