Food and Behaviour Research

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Attenuation of immune activation in patients with multiple sclerosis on a wheat-reduced diet: a pilot crossover trial

Engel S, Klotz L, Wirth T, Fleck A, Pickert G, Eschborn M, Kreuzburg S, Curella V, Bittner S, Zipp F, Schuppan D, Luessi F (2023) Therapeutic Advances in Neurological Disorders Jun 25:16:17562864231170928 doi: 10.1177/17562864231170928 

Web URL: Read this article on PubMed


Background: Western lifestyle has been associated with an increase in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). In mice, dietary wheat amylase-trypsin inhibitors (ATIs) activate intestinal myeloid cells and augment T cell-mediated systemic inflammation.

Objective: The aim of this study was to assess whether a wheat- and thus ATI-reduced diet might exert beneficial effects in RRMS patients with modest disease activity.

Methods: In this 6-month, crossover, open-label, bicentric proof-of-concept trial, 16 RRMS patients with stable disease course were randomized to either 3 months of a standard wheat-containing diet with consecutive switch to a > 90% wheat-reduced diet, or vice versa.

Results: The primary endpoint was negative, as the frequency of circulating pro-inflammatory T cells did not decrease during the ATI-reduced diet. We did, however, observe decreased frequencies of CD14+ CD16++ monocytes and a concomitant increase in CD14++ CD16- monocytes during the wheat-reduced diet interval. This was accompanied by an improvement in pain-related quality of life in health-related quality of life assessed (SF-36).

Conclusion: Our results suggest that the wheat- and thus ATI-reduced diet was associated with changes in monocyte subsets and improved pain-related quality of life in RRMS patients. Thus, a wheat (ATI)-reduced diet might be a complementary approach accompanying immunotherapy for some patients.