Publications & Posters

Cytokine Release After Gluten Ingestion Differentiates Coeliac Disease From Self-reported Gluten Sensitivity


Tye-Din JA, Skodje GI, Sarna VK, Dzuris JL, Russell AK, Goel G, Wang S, Goldstein KE, Williams LJ, Sollid LM, Lundin KE and Anderson RP.

United European Gastroenterology Journal. 2019;0:2050640619874173.




Diagnosing coeliac disease (CD) in patients on a gluten-free diet (GFD) is difficult. Ingesting gluten elevates circulating interleukin (IL)-2, IL-8 and IL-10 in CD patients on a GFD.


We tested whether cytokine release after gluten ingestion differentiates patients with CD from those with self-reported gluten sensitivity (SR-GS).


Australian patients with CD (n = 26) and SR-GS (n = 18) on a GFD consumed bread (estimated gluten 6 g). Serum at baseline and at 3 and 4 h was tested for IL-2, IL-8 and IL-10. Separately, Norwegian SR-GS patients (n = 49) had plasma cytokine assessment at baseline and at 2, 4 and 6 h after food bars containing gluten (5.7 g), fructan or placebo in a previous double-blind crossover study.


Gluten significantly elevated serum IL-2, IL-8 and IL-10 at 3 and 4 h in patients with CD but not SR-GS. The highest median fold-change from baseline at 4 h was for IL-2 (8.06, IQR: 1.52–24.0; P < 0.0001, Wilcoxon test). The two SR-GS cohorts included only one (1.5%) confirmed IL-2 responder, and cytokine responses to fructan and placebo were no different to gluten. Overall, cytokine release after gluten was present in 22 (85%) CD participants, but 2 of the 4 non-responders remained clinically well after 1 y on an unrestricted diet. Hence, cytokine release occurred in 22 (92%) of 24 ‘verified’ CD participants.


Gluten challenge with high-sensitivity cytokine assessment differentiates CD from SR-GS in patients on a GFD and identifies patients likely to tolerate gluten reintroduction. Systemic cytokine release indicating early immune activation by gluten in CD individuals cannot be detected in SR-GS individuals.