Small intestinal enteropathy in non-obese diabetic mice fed a diet containing wheat

Diabetologia. 2005 May;48(5):931-7. doi: 10.1007/s00125-005-1718-2. Epub 2005 Apr 14.


Aims/hypothesis: A deranged mucosal immune response and dietary factors may play an important role in the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes. The aims of our work were to look for the presence of small intestinal enteropathy in non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice in relation to the presence of wheat proteins in the diet, and to assess their role in the risk of developing diabetes.

Methods: Female NOD mice were fed a standard or gluten-free diet or a gluten-free diet with the addition of wheat proteins (MGFD). Small intestine architecture, intraepithelial CD3(+) infiltration, epithelial expression of H2-IA, mRNA for IFN-gamma and IL-4 were assessed.

Results: NOD mice fed a standard diet showed reduced villous height, increased intraepithelial infiltration by CD3(+) cells and enhanced expression of H2-IA and IFN-gamma mRNA when compared with mice on the gluten-free diet. The cumulative diabetes incidence at 43 weeks of age was 65% in the latter and 97% in the former (p<0.01). Mice on MGFD also showed increased epithelial infiltration and a higher incidence of diabetes.

Conclusions/interpretation: Mice fed a wheat-containing diet showed a higher incidence of diabetes, signs of small intestinal enteropathy and higher mucosal levels of proinflammatory cytokines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications*
  • Diet*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Intestinal Diseases / etiology*
  • Intestinal Diseases / pathology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Jejunum / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Triticum / adverse effects*