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Gut mucosal granulocyte activation precedes nitric oxide production: studies in coeliac patients challenged with gluten and corn
  1. G Kristjánsson1,
  2. M Högman2,
  3. P Venge3,
  4. R Hällgren4
  1. 1Department of Gastroenterology, Uppsala University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden
  2. 2Department of Medical Cell Biology, Section of Integrative Physiology, Uppsala University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden
  3. 3Laboratory for Inflammation Research, Uppsala University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden
  4. 4Department of Rheumatology, Uppsala University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr G Kristjánsson
    Department of Medical Sciences, Uppsala University, Department of Gastroenterology, Uppsala University Hospital, 75185 Uppsala, Sweden; gudjon.kristjansson{at}


Background and aims: To elucidate the dynamics of nitric oxide (NO) production induced by rectal gluten challenge and the relation between NO production and mucosal granulocyte activation.

Subjects and methods: Release of rectal NO was measured in 13 patients with coeliac disease and in 18 controls before and after rectal wheat gluten challenge. Rectal gas was collected with a rectal balloon using a newly developed instrument/technique, the “mucosal patch technique”. The instrument allows simultaneous measurements of concentrations of granulocyte mediators in the rectal mucosa. We measured myeloperoxidase (MPO), eosinophil cationic protein (ECP), and histamine. For comparison, we made similar measurements after corn (maize) gluten challenge.

Results: In all coeliac patients rectal NO concentration increased after gluten challenge and reached a peak after 15 hours (mean 9464 (SEM 2393) parts per billion (ppb); range 250–24982). The maximum MPO and ECP increase occurred five hours after challenge. A correlation was found between mucosal MPO and NO production at 15 hours. Six of the patients showed an increase in NO production 15 hours after rectal corn gluten challenge but this was much smaller than after gluten challenge. No increases were seen in the control group after either challenge.

Conclusion: Mucosal activation of neutrophils and eosinophils precedes pronounced enhancement of mucosal NO production after rectal wheat gluten challenge in patients with coeliac disease. Some of our coeliac patients displayed signs of an inflammatory reaction, as measured by NO and granulocyte markers, after rectal corn gluten challenge.

  • CD, coeliac disease
  • NO, nitric oxide
  • NOS, NO synthase
  • MPO, myeloperoxidase
  • ECP, eosinophil cationic protein
  • ppb, parts per billion
  • CTAB, N-Cetyl-N,N,N-trimethyl ammonium bromide
  • coeliac disease
  • corn
  • gluten
  • nitric oxide
  • rectal instillation
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    Three of the authors have stocks in Alimenta Diagnostics AB, Uppsala, Sweden and Pfizer.


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