Dr. Ron’s Research Review – November 2, 2011

This week’s research review: Autoimmune disease and Cow's milk

The highest antibody response to beta-casein in Type 1 diabetic patients and in patients with coeliac disease could reflect the gut mucosal immune disorders common to Type 1 diabetes and coeliac disease. (Monetini, Cavallo et al. 2002)

In humans the primary trigger of insulin-specific immunity is a modified self-antigen, that is, dietary bovine insulin, which breaks neonatal tolerance to self-insulin. The immune response induced by bovine insulin spreads to react with human insulin. (Vaarala 2006)

High milk consumers have an increased risk of folate receptor blocking autoantibody production. (Berrocal-Zaragoza, Murphy et al. 2009)

A milk-free diet down-regulates folate receptor autoimmunity in cerebral folate deficiency syndrome. (Ramaekers, Sequeira et al. 2008)

Dr. Ron


Articles

High milk consumers have an increased risk of folate receptor blocking autoantibody production but this does not affect folate status in Spanish men and women

            (Berrocal-Zaragoza, Murphy et al. 2009) Download

Folate receptor (FR)-blocking autoantibodies (FR-autoantibodies) have been reported in women with neural tube defect-affected pregnancies and subfertility and in children with progressive neurodevelopment disorders. We investigated their prevalence and association with folate status and milk intake in adults unexposed to folic acid fortification. A cross-sectional study of a randomly selected representative sample of a Spanish population (aged 18-75 y) stratified by age and gender was performed. Plasma and red cell folate, plasma cobalamin, fasting plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) concentration, methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase C677T polymorphism, and FR-autoantibody titer were determined in blood samples from 787 fasting participants. Lifestyle data were collected and milk intake estimated from a 3-d dietary record. FR-autoantibody prevalence was 7.2% [0.30 +/- 0.27 nmol (mean +/- SD) FR blocked/L], equally affecting men and women of all ages. Plasma and red cell folate and tHcy did not differ between carriers and noncarriers of FR-autoantibodies. Milk intake was higher in carriers (225 +/- 199 g/d) than in noncarriers (199 +/- 147 g/d) (P < 0.01). The risk of having FR-autoantibodies increased progressively with increasing quintile of milk intake and was significant in the highest quintile (> or =307 g/d) compared with the lowest (< or =67 g/d) [odds ratio (OR), 2.41 [95% CI: 1.02, 5.69]; P < 0.05; linear trend, P = 0.02]. We concluded that FR-autoantibodies occur in men and women of all ages and do not affect indicators of folate status such as plasma and red cell folate and tHcy. Higher milk intake is associated with increased risk of having FR-autoantibodies.

Antibodies to bovine beta-casein in diabetes and other autoimmune diseases

            (Monetini, Cavallo et al. 2002) Download

Cow's milk is thought to be an environmental trigger for autoimmune response in Type 1 diabetes. In the present study, our aim was to investigate the antibody response to bovine beta-casein in different immune- and non-immune-mediated diseases and to establish whether such an antibody response is specific to Type 1 diabetes. We measured antibodies to bovine beta-casein using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in a total of 519 sera from subjects as follows: 71 patients with Type 1 diabetes, 33 patients with coeliac disease, 100 patients with latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA), 50 patients with autoimmune thyroid disease (ATD), 50 patients with Type 2 diabetes, 24 patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), and 3 different groups of controls (n = 191). Significantly increased levels of antibodies to beta-casein were found in patients with Type 1 diabetes, coeliac disease and in LADA compared to age-matched controls (p = 0.01, p = 0.02 and p = 0.01, respectively). No differences were observed in beta-casein antibody titres between patients with other disease conditions (MS, and ATD) and age-matched controls. The highest antibody response to beta-casein in Type 1 diabetic patients and in patients with coeliac disease could reflect the gut mucosal immune disorders common to Type 1 diabetes and coeliac disease. Furthermore, the elevated beta-casein antibody levels found in LADA patients suggest that the antibody response to this protein may be relevant in autoimmune diabetes.

A milk-free diet downregulates folate receptor autoimmunity in cerebral folate deficiency syndrome

            (Ramaekers, Sequeira et al. 2008) Download

In cerebral folate deficiency syndrome, the presence of autoantibodies against the folate receptor (FR) explains decreased folate transport to the central nervous system and the clinical response to folinic acid. Autoantibody crossreactivity with milk FR from different species prompted us to test the effect of a milk-free diet. Intervention with a milkfree diet in 12 children (nine males, three females; mean age 6y [SD 4y 11mo], range 1-19y), decreased autoantibody titer significantly from 2.08pmol of FR blocked per ml of serum (SD 2.1; range 0.24-8.35) to 0.35pmol (SD 0.49; range 0-1.32; p=0.012) over 3 to 13 months, whereas FR autoantibody titer increased significantly to 6.53 (SD 6.08; range 0.54-14.07; p=0.013) in nine children who were reexposed to milk for 6 to 14 weeks. In 12 children on a normal diet (eight males, four females; mean age 5y 5mo [SD 4y 1mo], range 1y 6mo-16y 4mo), the antibody titer increased significantly from 0.84pmol of FR blocked per ml (SD 0.39; range 0.24-1.44) to 3.04pmol (SD 1.42; range 0.84-6.01; p=0.001) over 10 to 24 months. Decreasing the autoantibody titer with a milk-free diet in conjunction with folinic acid therapy may be advocated for these patients.

Is it dietary insulin?

            (Vaarala 2006) Download

In humans the primary trigger of insulin-specific immunity is a modified self-antigen, that is, dietary bovine insulin, which breaks neonatal tolerance to self-insulin. The immune response induced by bovine insulin spreads to react with human insulin. This primary immune response induced in the gut immune system is regulated by the mechanisms of oral tolerance. Genetic factors and environmental factors, such as the gut microflora, breast milk-derived factors, and enteral infections, control the development of oral tolerance. The age of host modifies the immune response to oral antigens because the permeability of the gut decreases with age and mucosal immune response, such as IgA response, develops with age. The factors that control the function of the gut immune system may either be protective from autoimmunity by supporting tolerance, or they may induce autoimmunity by abating tolerance to dietary insulin. There is accumulating evidence that the intestinal immune system is aberrant in children with type 1 diabetes (T1D). Intestinal immune activation and increased gut permeability are associated with T1D. These aberrancies may be responsible for the impaired control of tolerance to dietary insulin. Later in life, factors that activate insulin-specific immune cells derived from the gut may switch the response toward cytotoxic immunity. Viruses, which infect beta cells, may release autoantigens and potentiate their presentation by an infection-associated "danger signal." This kind of secondary immunization may cause functional changes in the dietary insulin primed immune cells, and lead to the infiltration of insulin-reactive T cells to the pancreatic islets.


References

Berrocal-Zaragoza, M. I., M. M. Murphy, et al. (2009). "High milk consumers have an increased risk of folate receptor blocking autoantibody production but this does not affect folate status in Spanish men and women." J Nutr 139(5): 1037-41.

Monetini, L., M. G. Cavallo, et al. (2002). "Antibodies to bovine beta-casein in diabetes and other autoimmune diseases." Horm Metab Res 34(8): 455-9.

Ramaekers, V. T., J. M. Sequeira, et al. (2008). "A milk-free diet downregulates folate receptor autoimmunity in cerebral folate deficiency syndrome." Dev Med Child Neurol 50(5): 346-52.

Vaarala, O. (2006). "Is it dietary insulin?" Ann N Y Acad Sci 1079: 350-9.