The probiotic VSL#3 breaks down gliadin, the toxic protein produced from gluten. VSL#3 hydrolyzes gliadin peptides according to De Angelis et al. ("VSL#3 probiotic preparation has the capacity to hydrolyze gliadin polypeptides responsible for Celiac Sprue" in Biochim Biophys Acta. 2006; 1762(1): 80-93). They observed almost complete breakdown of gliadin during prolonged fermentation in bread dough. The ability to decrease the toxicity of wheat flour is a giant step forward.
VSL#3 (www.vsl3.com), a commercially available probiotic, has previously been shown effective in digestive conditions such as Crohn’s disease, IBS, antibiotic associated diarrhea. Probiotics are known to decrease gut permeability. This study confirmed proteins extracted from dough pre-treated with VSL#3 released less zonulin, the protein that controls tight junctions between intestinal lining cells. Zonulin is believed to be important in the development of celiac disease. It increases permeability of leaky gut that predisposes to celiac and non-celiac gluten toxicity. Less F-actin reorganization within the cells also was noted. F-actin controls intestinal permeability.
Exposure of protein products from dough pre-treated with VSL#3 did not show increased CD3+ intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs) compared to non-treated dough. Increased IELs is a hallmark of celiac disease and the earliest sign of gluten toxicity to intestinal cells. The authors conclude that the ability of the probiotic VSL#3 to break down gliadin “may have an importance during food processing to produce pre-digested and tolerated gliadin for increasing the palatability of gluten-free products” Can this probiotic protect against the onset of celiac disease? Will taking it speed up the healing of celiac and reduce symptoms by reducing leaky gut? Theoretically, it seems it may be protective measure against inadvertent low levels of hidden gluten exposure.
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