What Does it Mean to Be Genetically Predisposed?

So, if gliadin is only partially digested when we eat it, and gliadin peptides are able to activate T cells, why doesn’t everyone who eats gluten develop celiac disease? As described above, MHC class II proteins display peptides on the surface of antigen presenting cells for CD4+ T cells to recognize. There are 3 major types of MHC class II … Read More

How Does Gluten Activate T Cells?

All proteins are made up of smaller parts called amino acids. The amino acids are linked together to form a long chain, like beads that have been strung together to form a necklace.  When we eat protein, enzymes in our digestive system (called proteases) break apart the chain into individual amino acids. In our intestine, cells called enterocytes absorb the amino … Read More

What Are the Different Types of T Cells?

There are 3 main types of T cells: cytotoxic, helper, and regulatory. Each of them has a different role in the immune response. Cytotoxic T cells (CD8+) Cytotoxic T cells (Tc cells) have a co-receptor called CD8 on their cell surface. CD8 partners with the T cell receptor and with MHC class I molecules, acting as a sort of bridge. This … Read More

T Cells

Like all immune cells, T cells have receptors (in this case called T cell receptors) that recognize antigens. Once the antigen is recognized, the T cell becomes activated. Activated T cells are responsible for destroying the pathogen, either directly by killing the infected cell, or indirectly by activating B cells or innate immune cells—this is often called the cell-mediated immune … Read More

The Immune System in Celiac Disease

In the 1960s and 1970s, researchers began to understand that the immune system was involved in celiac disease, and that the immune response occurred upon exposure to gluten.1 One of the first clues was that more lymphocytes were found in the intestines of patients with untreated celiac disease and fewer lymphocytes were found in the intestines of patients who were … Read More

What Is Gluten?

A cereal grain (wheat, barley, rye, oats, corn) is essentially a seed that can germinate and grow into a plant. Each grain has distinct parts: the bran is the outer protective layer, the germ is the plant embryo, and the endosperm contains starch and proteins that provide the nutrients that the germ needs to grow. There are 4 main types … Read More

What Is Autoimmune Disease?

The immune system is incredibly powerful and capable of causing damage to our own cells while attempting to get rid of pathogens. To make sure this doesn’t happen, many safeguards are in place to guide the immune cells toward pathogens that may cause harm, and away from the thousands of normal proteins that are found in our bodies and in … Read More

How Do Immune Cells Detect Pathogens?

Immune cells obviously don’t have eyes or ears to see or hear trespassing pathogens. What they do have are proteins called receptors that interact with other proteins. The receptors have unique shapes that recognize proteins with complimentary shapes—similar to a lock that can only be opened by a specific key. An immune response begins when an immune cell receptor (the … Read More

Immune Cells

Immune cells are specialized white blood cells (also called leukocytes) that circulate through our blood vessels and settle in many of our tissues and organs. They are on constant watch for anything that appears to be foreign and might be considered a threat to our health. Immune cells are divided into two main groups—innate immune cells and adaptive immune cells. … Read More

The Immune System

Every day, potentially harmful bacteria and viruses (also called pathogens) try their best to infect us. Our immune system works tirelessly to defend against these attacks by preventing infection and killing pathogens before they cause harm. The immune system is actually made up of many different parts, including: When a pathogen gets past the physical and chemical barriers of the … Read More