Why Wheat Is A Concealed Cause of Many Diseases, II: Auto-Antibody Generation

This week we’re examining why wheat is the most dangerous food, and focusing on its role in causing autoimmune diseases. In Tuesday’s post, we talked about how wheat induces a leaky gut; today, we’ll look at how wheat generates auto-antibodies that attack self tissue.

Known Wheat-Derived Auto-Antibodies

In the book we talk about the role of gluten in creating auto-antibodies that attack tissue transglutaminase (tTg), a human enzyme that is abundant in the thyroid and gut. This leads to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and celiac disease.

However, wheat can generate auto-antibodies to other human molecules besides tTg. These include:

  • Collagens I, III, V, and VI. tTG catalyzes the cross linking of gliadin peptides with interstitial collagen types I, III, and VI, leading to formation of antibodies against collagen. Celiac disease patients have been found to have circulating auto-antibodies to collagens I, III, V, and VI. [1]
  • Synapsin I. Synapsins are a family of proteins regulating neurotransmitter release at synapses. By forming antibodies against wheat gliadin in animals, and then immunoprecipitating human proteins with these antibodies, investigators found that antibodies to wheat gliadin bind strongly to synapsin I. Anti-wheat antibodies from celiac disease patients bind to human synapsin I. [2]

Other known targets of wheat-generated auto-antibodies include gangliosides, actin, calreticulin and desmin. [3,4]

More Wheat-Derived Auto-Antibodies Still to be Found

Scientists may have only begun to identify the human proteins that wheat can generate antibodies against.

For instance, auto-antibodies taken from the blood of celiac disease patients bind to an unidentified 55 kiloDalton protein expressed on the nuclear membrane of intestinal cells, endothelial cells and fibroblasts. [5] That nuclear protein remains unidentified today.

Effects of Wheat-Derived Auto-Antibodies

These various wheat-derived auto-antibodies can trigger attacks against a wide range of tissues. Blood vessels are a frequent target. In our book we note that heart transplants are generally precipitated by wheat-derived autoimmune attacks on the heart. [6]

Nerves are another. Wheat-derived antibodies against neuronal tissue, probably targeting synapsin, can produce “neurologic complications such as neuropathy, ataxia, seizures, and neurobehavioral changes.” [2]

Neurologic deficits, including axonal neuropathy and cerebellar ataxia, are among the most common extraintestinal symptoms associated with celiac disease. In addition, elevated levels of anti-gliadin Ab have been associated with idiopathic neuropathy and ataxia, even in the apparent absence of the characteristic mucosal pathology. [2]

I’ve bolded that last part because it shows that you can have neurological damage from wheat even if your intestine is doing fine.

Neuronal synapsin has been reported to be reduced in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. [7] Both diseases have been tied to wheat consumption. It’s possible that wheat-derived autoimmune attacks on synapsin may be a causal factor in both diseases.

The ability of wheat to induce peculiar autoimmune reactions is perhaps best illustrated in schizophrenia. Schizophrenics frequently have antibodies to wheat, but not the ones that occur in celiac disease:

In contrast to celiac disease patients, an association between the anti-gliadin immune response and anti-TG2 antibody or HLA-DQ2 and -DQ8 markers was not found in individuals with schizophrenia. In addition, the majority of individuals with schizophrenia and anti-gliadin antibody did not exhibit antibody reactivity to deamidated gliadin peptides. Further characterization of the antibody specificity revealed preferential reactivity towards different gluten proteins in the schizophrenia and celiac disease groups. These findings indicate that the anti-gliadin immune response in schizophrenia has a different antigenic specificity from that in celiac disease and is independent of the action of transglutaminase enzyme and HLA-DQ2/DQ8. [8]

There are multiple mechanisms by which wheat consumption contributes to schizophrenia and other mental illnesses – we mentioned opioid peptides last week – and elimination of wheat should be a first step in treating schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other mental illnesses.


Wheat is a toxic food which can trigger auto-antibodies against a variety of tissues, precipitating a diverse array of autoimmune conditions. Many of these autoimmune conditions have not yet been characterized.

Other grains and legumes can induce autoimmune damage in similar fashion. In a comment today, John Wilson noted that he had recurring mouth sores until he gave up peanuts, which cured the problem. Peanuts are a legume and, much like wheat, contain a variety of immunogenic toxins.

If you have an odd, unexplained medical condition, try Step Two of our book – removing toxic foods from the diet. Removing immunogenic toxins will cure many pathologies, and make it easier to diagnose whatever is left over.

Related Posts

Other posts in this series:

  1. Wheat Is A Cause of Many Diseases, I: Leaky Gut Oct 26, 2010.
  2. Why Wheat Is A Concealed Cause of Many Diseases, III: Adjuvant Activity Nov 01, 2010.


[1] Dieterich W et al. Cross linking to tissue transglutaminase and collagen favours gliadin toxicity in coeliac disease. Gut. 2006 Apr;55(4):478-84. http://pmid.us/16188922.

[2] Alaedini A et al. Immune cross-reactivity in celiac disease: anti-gliadin antibodies bind to neuronal synapsin I. J Immunol. 2007 May 15;178(10):6590-5. http://pmid.us/17475890.

[3] Alaedini A, Green PH. Autoantibodies in celiac disease. Autoimmunity. 2008 Feb;41(1):19-26. http://pmid.us/18176861.

[4] Shaoul R, Lerner A.  Associated autoantibodies in celiac disease. Autoimmun Rev. 2007 Sep;6(8):559-65. http://pmid.us/17854749.

[5] Natter S et al. IgA cross-reactivity between a nuclear autoantigen and wheat proteins suggests molecular mimicry as a possible pathomechanism in celiac disease. Eur J Immunol. 2001 Mar;31(3):918-28. http://pmid.us/11241297.

[6] Sategna-Guidetti C et al. Binding by serum IgA antibodies from patients with coeliac disease to monkey heart tissue. Scand J Gastroenterol. 2004 Jun;39(6):540-3. http://pmid.us/15223677.

[7] Vawter MP et al. Reduction of synapsin in the hippocampus of patients with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Mol Psychiatry. 2002;7(6):571-8. http://pmid.us/12140780.

[8] Samaroo D et al. Novel immune response to gluten in individuals with schizophrenia. Schizophr Res. 2010 May;118(1-3):248-55. http://pmid.us/19748229.

Leave a comment ?


  1. Ary De Vany posted this link about Cynthia Kenyon. Would this change your advice to each starch?


  2. Hi Jeremy,

    No, because the amount of carbohydrates that the body sees is different from the amount that goes in the mouth.

    If you eat less than 600 calories of carbs, the liver manufactures the difference. We recommend eating less than 600 calories of carbs. So my body is seeing the same amount of glucose as Art’s.

    Unless, that is, he has a glucose deficiency, which I think would be life-shortening.

    Similarly, there’s no strong dependence of insulin levels with glucose intake up to 600 calories. Higher glucose intake increases insulin sensitivity.

    So eating 400 calories of starch won’t shorten lifespan.

    I still owe you posts about zero carb dangers and gastrointestinal cancer risk on zero-carb diets, I’ll get to them soon.

  3. Hi Paul,

    It’s the promised “zero carb dangers and gastrointestinal cancer risk on zero-carb diets” that really forced me to add that 200g sweet potato to my previously ZC diet. Let’s hope your posts are convincing, but in the meantime I’m going for it.


  4. Excellent article, thanks.
    I was diagnosed with Hashimotos a year ago and have since been strict gluten free. (Read Dr K’s excellent book) 18 months ago I switched to a paleo diet, and a ton of niggling issues disappeared, joint inflammation, a huge ganglion cyst shrank, menstrual issues. My mother recently tried paleo eating – gluten free, but still a little soy only, she has Lupus and her small ariways disease showed massive improvement in just a few weeks.

    I’m also a nutritionist, and have done some paleo trials with some client volunteers – and one of the biggest effects was the joint issues disappearing. FYI under paleo results on my blog.

  5. Hi Julianne,

    Thanks, it’s great to hear your Mom’s lupus is better!

    It’s amazing what a variety of diseases can be caused by food toxins.

  6. Hi Paul, do you think some occasional cheat with gluten may harm?

  7. Hi Kratos,

    Well, yes it can … but “the dose makes the poison,” so just an occasional cheat is much less dangerous than regular consumption.

    We cheat occasionally when travelling, just for expediency’s sake, but never at home.

  8. hi thanks for the book and the blogs etc.

    Are any pulses less harmfull,ie red lentils,yes my favourite:)? or Chick peas?


  9. Hi snake,

    Both lentils and chick peas are relatively high in toxins. If well cooked, many toxins are destroyed and they will not produce acute symptoms, but we worry about low-dose poisoning and long-term effects, or autoimmune effects. Similar foods, like soybeans, have well-documented long-term negative effects.

    So we avoid them.

    Best, Paul

  10. HI Paul.
    Thanks for your reply.

    Guess i’ll have to get used to Life without the legumes then:(.

    I have had Psoriasis for 35 years so am hoping the diet will help,but even if not im already feeling more energetic.

    I had tried macrobiotic, vegan vegetarian diets and the SED:)(standard english diet) over the years,but this is really the 1st time I have cut out grains veg oils and hi amounts of fruit so should be interesting.

    Please keep up your blogs etc as they are very important for continued incentive and support for the changes.

    Your work is appreciated by myself and Im sure many others. Cheers

  11. Wheat and Disease | Sam Snyder - pingback on January 31, 2012 at 2:38 pm
  12. Hi Paul,

    Good morning! I realize you’re very very busy, but I have been further investigating my dizziness issue. Thank you also for your response on the thread where I posted about possible iron overload and my cheap multivitamin causing me problems. I’m waiting for my doctor to get back to me about doing the whole iron panel blood workup. So, hopefully I will be able to do that this week.

    In the meantime, as I continued looking for causes, I read how the cerebellum is related to motor function. This is what I came across this morning (which, of course won’t surprise you and Shou-Ching since you’ve done so much research on gluten)… It’s an article on gluten induced ataxia, where the gluten antibodies may attack the cerebellum.


    If this could be true for me, is there any hope of recovery? I know I have to wait for some formal diagnosis, but I’d rather start doing whatever I can now to help my brain if the cause happens to be gluten ataxia. I stopped all gluten products at the end of Oct 2011.

    Also, I don’t yet understand the process of antibodies… so, if someone has antibodies to gluten, then they stop ingesting gluten, when do the antibodies go away? Or do they just continue to circulate until they find something since they’re programmed to kill?

    Any thoughts on this? (whenever you have time) Or anyone else out there??

    Thank you! 🙂

  13. Hi KH,

    Usually gluten antibodies go away in 6-12 months, but it is a highly uncertain process. Antibodies to infectious pathogens seem to last longer; antibodies to influenza viruses can stay around for a century, as we know from the 1918 flu; about 20% of people infected with C. pneumoniae lose antibodies in 7 years judging from Japanese data. But auto-antibodies should disappear much faster, as the body has a forced clearing mechanism.

    Once auto-antibodies are gone, you may need additional time for the brain to heal.

    I would try supplementing B vitamins as well as our regular supplements, with an emphasis on vitamins B6 and B12, up to 5 mg B12.

    Best, Paul

  14. Ok, thank you so much! I do have Solgar B-complex “50” which has:
    -B1–50mg (3333%DV)
    -B2–50mg (2941%DV)
    -B3–50mg (250%DV)
    -B6–50mg (2500%DV)
    -Folic Acid– 400mcg (100%DV)
    -B12–50mcg (833%DV)
    -Biotin (as D-biotin)–50mcg (17%DV)
    -B5 (as D-Ca pantothenate)–50mg (500%DV)
    – natural powdered blend–3.5 mg (includes kelp plant, acerola, alfalfa, parsley, rose hips, watercress)

    Do you think this is a good one? Maybe I should also buy a B12 only to add to this one (since I can only take this one once a day, so as not to get too much folic acid).

    Thanks again!

  15. Oh, also, do you have a general recommendation for upper intake of B6? I will go buy that one today also. I will look it up online, but wanted to know what you might do.

    Thank you so much for your help!

  16. Hi KH,

    Yes, that’s OK. The niacin/B3 could be too much if you have a bacterial infection. Don’t take two. I would take a B12, methylcobalamin preferably at high doses, in addition.

    B6 – 50 mg is good. 100 mg is about the safe limit.

  17. I have recently gone on a low carb diet prescribed by doc because of high cholesterol, low HDL, and 386 triglycerides, and prediabetes. Researching this diet, which has taken away knee pain, by the way, brought me to the decision to drop wheat completely, fruit except for berries, and sugar, and exercise more. I have EOE, eosinophilic esaphagitis, and am wondering if perhaps the lack of wheat might help me with that. I am 56, female.

  18. Hi Paul,

    Happy New Year to you and your family from England.

    I wanted to ask a question about type one diabetes and TPO antibodies please. They have recently shown up on a blood test I had. I’ve had diabetes for 28yrs (35yrs old now). I read in your book that once gluten is removed, the pancreas destroying antibodies stop. I wondered if there are any articles explaining why type one diabetes does not resolve itself subsequently? Is it continued by molecular mimicry of other proteins?

    I wanted to know PHD thinking on autoimmune foods to remove. I’ve read eggs, dairy, coffee….a long list of suspect finds could trigger autoimmunity? I’ve removed all dairy except for butter. I also read your article on Hashimotos and red meat/pork.

    I wanted to make sure I do my best before the next blood test. Not sure how far to go or if standard PHD is enough?

    My endocrinologist is due to retest thyroid antibodies in February. I gave up gluten completely immediately, just not sure what else I may need to drop.

    Thank you,


  19. Hi, I am reading the book, and I was really astonished at the statement, “Heart transplant patients usually have celiac disease ….” (p. 200 in the kindle version.) This led me to follow up, and I am thinking that you may have misunderstood the statement in the paper you cited. I really don’t think this statement is true. It is only that candidates for heart transplant have an increased risk for CD as compared to the general population. I obtained the full version of the paper you cite both there and here (fn 6 above). The relevant portion states: “The recently reported significantly increased CD prevalence in heart transplant candidates and in patients with autoimmune myocarditis (6–8) suggests the presence of an
    autoimmune process towards antigenic components of both myocardium and small bowel.”

    To see just how much the “significantly increased CD prevalence” was, I looked at fns 6 through 8 of that paper as well. Of the 3 citations, it appears that the paper cited in fn 7 is the one that related to heart transplant patients. that paper is Prati D, Bardella MT, Peracchi M, Poretti L, Cardillo M, Pagliari Tarantino C, et al. High frequency of antiendomysial reactivity in
    candidates to heart transplant. Digest Liver Dis 2002;34:39–43.

    If you look at the abstract for that paper, I think you can see that unless I am totally missing something, very few of the heart transplant candidates had signs of celiac disease. It is just that they had a significantly higher risk.

    Per the abstract, the study included “[a] total of 642 consecutive patients entering the waiting list for heart transplantation from 1995 through 1997.” However, only 12 of them had indications of CD. This is still a high number, because only 34 people out of the control group — which was over 9,000 people! — had signs of CD.

    However, despite this increased risk,, I am not seeing support for this idea that people who need heart transplants USUALLY have a gluten sensitivity or that this is the greatest cause of these kinds of heart problems.

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