Gluten-free diet reduces immunity in dermatitis patients, study shows

October 2, 2007

Durham, N.C. - According to results of a recently released study, patients with dermatitis herpetiformis have normal levels of serum interleukin-8 (IL-8) if they follow a gluten-free diet, HealthDay News reports.

Durham, N.C. - According to results of a recently released study, patients with dermatitis herpetiformis have normal levels of serum interleukin-8 (IL-8) if they follow a gluten-free diet, HealthDay News reports.

The study, conducted by researchers at Duke University Medical Center and published in the September issue of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, examined serum IL-8 in 10 patients with dermatitis herpetiformis, of whom six were on a gluten-free diet and four on a normal diet. IL-8 level was also examined in small bowel biopsies from two dermatitis herpetiformis patients on a gluten-free diet, five patients on a normal diet and six subjects with no small-bowel abnormalities.

After a follow-up of 2.2 years, the researchers found that serum IL-8 levels fell in one patient on a gluten-free diet and normalized in five of them, while there was no significant change in patients on a normal diet. IL-8 levels were elevated in biopsies from patients on a normal diet compared with normal subjects, but there was no significant change in patients on a gluten-free diet. No significant IL-8 was detected in skin biopsies from patients, they note.

“These observations suggest that the IL-8 in the serum of patients with dermatitis herpetiformis originates from the small bowel as a mucosal immune response to gluten ingestion,” the study concludes.