Editorials

Lack of oats toxicity in coeliac disease

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.314.7075.159 (Published 18 January 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:159

Toxic fraction makes up less of total protein than in other cereals

  1. Jacques Schmitz, Professora
  1. a Gastro-Entérologie Pédiatrique, Hôpital des Enfants Malades, 149 rue de Sèvres, 75743 Paris Cedex 15, France

    In his pioneering study of “the harmful effects of certain types of cereal on patients suffering from coeliac disease,” Dicke showed that wheat and rye could reproducibly trigger anorexia, diarrhoea, and steatorrhoea in these patients.1 Soon after, using the same prolonged fecal balance studies, Dicke found that oats were also noxious whereas corn, rice, and potatoes were not.2 3 Reports suggesting that barley was toxic came later.4 5 Simultaneously, the “injurious constituent of wheat” was found to be its prolamin (or alcohol soluble protein), gliadin.3 Secalin, hordein, and avenin, the prolamins of rye, barley, and oats respectively, were thus considered as the toxic fractions of these cereals.

    However, whereas the noxious effects of wheat, barley, and rye could be reproduced, the harmful effects of oats remained controversial–observed by some workers,2 3 denied by others,6 7 and variable for still others.5 8 This uncertainty stems from several factors. Firstly, the early studies included small numbers of patients …

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