A new study has found significant changes in the microbiome and the metabolome — the molecular components of cells and tissues — of children genetically predisposed to coeliac disease in the months before the development of coeliac disease.
“We compared the gut microbiomes of 10 infants who went on to develop coeliac disease to the gut microbiomes of 10 infants who did not develop the autoimmune condition,” says Dr. Maureen Leonard, lead author and clinical director of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment at Mass General Hospital, Boston.
“We found significant changes in the intestinal microbes, pathways and metabolites as early as 18 months before disease onset. That was much earlier than we expected.”Dr. Maureen Leonard, lead author and clinical director of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment at Mass General Hospital, Boston
The researchers are hoping to use this information to better predict coeliac disease and learn how to prevent the condition. “This study lays the groundwork because we ultimately want to connect the alterations that we find in the microbiome with environmental exposures,” says Leonard. “To do this, we need to start examining the microbiome soon after birth in these individuals that have an increased genetic risk to develop coeliac disease.”