Flaws of Laboratory Testing to Identify Gluten Issues
It is no mystery that serum (blood) tests to identify gluten sensitivity are fundamentally flawed. It is also no mystery that the intestinal biopsy is flawed as well. Unfortunately, doctors continue to use these tools definitively to diagnose celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. If the labs come back normal, many doctors dismiss gluten sensitivity all together. This leads to a lot of people going undiagnosed and staying sick.
There are Thousands of Different Types of Glutens
Part of the problem with one of the serum lab tests (anti-gliadin antibody test) is that it is only sensitive for a very specific type of gluten called gliadin. Researchers have identified thousands of different types of gluten proteins found in grains, but lab tests don’t measure whether or not patients react to all of these different glutens – just gliadin.
Serum lab test flaws don’t stop there. Most of these tests measure a specific type of antibody produced by your body’s immune system. The most common antibody types measured are IgA and IgG. Your body can make five different types of antibodies (see below).
- Immunoglobulin A (IgA)
Additionally, your body’s immune system can react to gluten in multiple ways (direct T-Cell reactions, immune complex reactions). Your immune system can also make other types of chemicals to help you fight gluten. These chemicals are typically not measured at all. Examples include –
- Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)
The diagram below illustrates some of these immune system reactions.
Gluten Can Cause Damage in Other Ways
New research has also discovered that gluten can cause changes in your friendly intestinal bacteria (dysbiosis). These changes can contribute to the development of celiac disease and other autoimmune diseases. Research has also discovered that gluten can cause leaky gut syndrome.
Bottom line – if you have had negative test results via biopsy of serum labs, you may still have gluten sensitivity. The most accurate way to get a meaningful diagnosis is genetic testing or using an elimination diet. You may also want to take this quick quiz <<<==
All the best – Dr. Osborne – The Gluten Free Warrior
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