An alternative mechanism for gluten toxicity in coeliac disease

Lancet. 1976 Mar 13;1(7959):567-9. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(76)90361-5.


The pathogenesis of gluten-sensitive enteropathies is unknown, although a peptidase deficiency and an immune defect have been postulated. The effect of plant-derived lectins on cells has led to an alternative concept in which a defect of the cell surface membrane allows gluten to act as a lectin and this reaction initiates cell toxicity. The proposed abnormality is viewed as a structural change produced by incomplete oligosaccharide chains in surface-membrane glycoproteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Celiac Disease / etiology*
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Glutens / adverse effects
  • Glutens / toxicity*
  • Glycoproteins / biosynthesis
  • HLA Antigens
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Lectins / pharmacology


  • Glycoproteins
  • HLA Antigens
  • Lectins
  • Glutens