Effects of a gluten-free diet on gut microbiota and immune function in healthy adult humans

Gut Microbes. May-Jun 2010;1(3):135-7. doi: 10.4161/gmic.1.3.11868. Epub 2010 Mar 16.


Diet is a major environmental factor influencing gut microbiota diversity and functionality, which might be relevant to subjects following dietary therapies. Celiac disease (CD) is an enteropathy caused by an aberrant immune response to cereal gluten proteins and the only therapy is the adherence to a gluten-free diet (GFD). In this context, a preliminary study was conducted to establish whether the GFD in itself could modify the composition and immune properties of the gut microbiota. The trial included 10 healthy subjects (30.3 years-old), which were submitted to a GFD over one month. Analysis of fecal microbiota and dietary intake indicated that numbers of healthy gut bacteria decreased, while numbers of unhealthy bacteria increased parallel to reductions in the intake of polysaccharides after following the GFD. Fecal samples of subjects under a GFD, which represent an altered microbiota, also exerted lower immune stimulatory effects on peripheral blood mononuclear cells than those of subjects on a regular gluten-containing diet. This addendum presents further discussion on the rationale behind these findings, limitations of the study and possible consequences of dietary counselling in the care process of celiac disease patients.

Keywords: celiac disease; gluten-free diet; gut microbiota; immunity; polysaccharides; prebiotics; probiotics.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Bacterial Adhesion
  • Celiac Disease / diet therapy
  • Celiac Disease / immunology
  • Celiac Disease / microbiology
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Diet, Gluten-Free / adverse effects*
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Intestines / immunology*
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Male


  • Cytokines