Bone marrow transplant leads to celiac disease cure

By Jason Clevenger

Summary: Two celiac disease patients who received a bone marrow transplant for another medical condition appear to have been cured of celiac disease by the procedure, according to a follow up report by Italian physicians.

The transplant was given to the patients more than five years ago for a thalassemia major, a genetic blood disorder. Left untreated, it typically results in death before age 20. Following the transplant the patients returned to a gluten-containing diet yet they show no clinical signs of celiac disease through blood tests and biopsies.

Conclusion: This report demonstrates that the immune system can be “reset” in a way to provide long-term relief from some autoimmune-related conditions such as celiac disease. While no one is suggesting this highly invasive and expensive stem-cell transplant technique could become a therapy for celiac disease itself, it provides insight for the potential effectiveness of other treatments involving stem cells.

 

[1] “Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation May Restore Gluten Tolerance in Patients With Celiac Disease.”, Ciccocioppo R, Bernardo ME, Russo ML, Vanoli A, Franco C, Martinetti M, Catenacci L, Giorgiani G, Zecca M, Piralla A, Baldanti F, Locatelli F, Corazza GR, #Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition# 2013 Apr;56(4):422-427.