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Keywords:

  • gluten;
  • gluten-free;
  • type 1 diabetes;
  • non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice;
  • diet;
  • environmental factors

Abstract

Background

Environmental factors such as nutrition or exposure to infections play a substantial role in the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes (T1D). We have previously shown that gluten-free, non-purified diet largely prevented diabetes in non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice. In this study we tested hypothesis that early introduction of gluten-enriched (gluten+) diet may increase diabetes incidence in NOD mice.

Methods

Standard, gluten-free, gluten+ modified Altromin diets and hydrolysed-casein-based Pregestimil diet were fed to NOD females and diabetes incidence was followed for 310 days. Insulitis score and numbers of gut mucosal lymphocytes were determined in non-diabetic animals.

Results

A significantly lower diabetes incidence (p < 0.0001) was observed in NOD mice fed gluten-free diet (5.9%, n = 34) and Pregestimil diet (10%, n = 30) compared to mice on the standard Altromin diet (60.6%, n = 33). Surprisingly, gluten+ diet also prevented diabetes incidence, even at the level found with the gluten-free diet (p < 0.0001, 5.9%, n = 34). The minority of mice, which developed diabetes on all the three diabetes-protective (gluten+, gluten-free, Pregestimil) diets, did that slightly later compared to those on the standard diet. Lower insulitis score compared to control mice was found in non-diabetic NOD mice on the gluten-free, and to a lesser extent also gluten+ and Pregestimil diets. No substantial differences in the number of CD3+, TCR-γδ+, and IgA+ cells in the small intestine were documented.

Conclusions

Gluten+ diet prevents diabetes in NOD mice at the level found with the non-purified gluten-free diet. Possible mechanisms of the enigmatic, dual effect of dietary gluten on the development of T1D are discussed. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.