Gluten has strong pathophysiological effects on the brain and nervous tissues in persons genetically susceptible to gluten sensitivity and celiac disease.
One of its effects is to cause hypo-perfusion or reduction of blood flow. SPECT scans have helped illusidate those changes of the blood flow of the brain exposed to gluten in the person who is gluten sensitive or celiac. In a study done by Dr Giovanni Addolorato and associates, out of the Institute of Internal Medicine,Catholic University of Rome, and reported in Am J Med 2004http://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343%2803%2900696-X/abstract, SPECT scan results showed the presence of regional cerebral hypo-perfusion in 73% of the untreated Celiac (CD) patients, compared with only 7% of CD patients on gluten free diet and none of the controls.Similar cerebral blood flow changes have been reported in patients suffering from different psychiatric disorders.
This happens in real life, to all those who have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease whether they know they have it or not. There are between 7 to 13 people undiagnosed for every celiac diagnosed depending on the study.
Dr. Charles Parker has some great pictures of the SPECT scans of a brain under the influence of gluten. Most of the problems occur in the prefrontal areas.
Dr. Parker writes:
Brain, SPECT and Celiac
Brain changes do appear on SPECT imaging with bowel immune dysfunction: think gluten sensitivity and celiac. Seeing real pathological evidence, bottom to top, does help with believing. Just a few months ago we reported at CorePsych Blog the interesting findings, reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine, of all places, on SPECT brain imaging, celiac and a clearing of schizophrenic symptoms when the gluten sensitivity was effectively treated. Schizophrenia cured by eating a proper diet… and reported in an Internal Medicine journal? Interesting how others are seeing evidence for what some of us in mental health are missing.
Gluten Villi in Stages of Deterioration
This pathology slide set shows what celiac and early gluten sensitivity look like on the bowel level from the Columbia University Celiac Disease Center:
Just below: a typical brain image we often see using SPECT imaging for individuals with immune dysregulation. So many articles are coming up regarding brain imaging with SPECT with celiac I thought you would like to see the actual brain level findings that we see in our office.
The Immune Brain
Here you can easily see the temporal lobe and prefrontal hypoperfusion, so often referenced in the literature, that lead us to always chase down possible immune dysfunction/bowel/celiac issues as reported in the article below. -Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words…
Another article [ref PubMed] supports additional SPECT imaging evidence in celiac disease:
Frontal cortical perfusion abnormalities related to gluten intake and associated autoimmune disease in adult coeliac disease: 99mTc-ECD brain SPECT study. Usai P et al. Dig Liver Dis. 2004; 36(8): 513-8
See the conclusions below:
RESULTS: Twenty-four out of 34 patients (71%) showed brain single-photon emission computed tomography abnormalities confirmed by abnormal regional asymmetry index (>5%; range 5.8-18.5%). Topographic comparison of the brain areas showed that the more significant abnormalities were localised in frontal regions, and were significantly different from controls only in coeliac disease patients on unrestricted diet. The prevalence of single-photon emission computed tomography abnormalities was similar in coeliac disease patients with (74%) and without (69%) associated autoimmune disease. CONCLUSIONS: Abnormalities of brain perfusion seem common in coeliac disease. This phenomenon is similar to that previously described in other autoimmune diseases, but does not appear to be related to associated autoimmunity and, at least in the frontal region, may be improved by a gluten-free diet.These interesting articles reveal the growing interface between brain and body evidence in immune dysfunction. It’s interesting to bring these brain studies together with real office laboratory findings that confirm the pathophysiology on a gut cellular level.
Of further interest: SPECT is demonstrating changes in mold neurotoxin, neuroimmune conditions as well – more on mold findings in a later post. CP
See his blog for more information on brain health.http://www.corepsychblog.com/2008/01/spect-imaging-notes-more-on-celiac-brain-hypofunction/
Yes, it is interesting to see the evidence that there are more medical conditions, including celiac/gluten sensitivity that cause or aggravate conditions we call mental illnesses. Which then in turn increases our hope to truly help those who are suffering by making a diagnosis.
Test or be tested for Gluten sensitivity. It could save a life.