Is Candida albicans a trigger in the onset of coeliac disease?
Coeliac disease is a T-cell-mediated autoimmune disease of the small intestine that is induced by ingestion of gluten proteins from wheat, barley, or rye. We postulate that Candida albicans is a trigger in the onset of coeliac disease. The virulence factor of C albicans-hyphal wall protein 1 (HWP1)-contains aminoacid sequences that are identical or highly homologous to known coeliac disease-related alpha-gliadin and gamma-gliadin T-cell epitopes. HWP1 is a transglutaminase substrate, and is used by C albicans to adhere to the intestinal epithelium. Furthermore, tissue transglutaminase and endomysium components could become covalently linked to the yeast. Subsequently, C albicans might function as an adjuvant that stimulates antibody formation against HWP1 and gluten, and formation of autoreactive antibodies against tissue transglutaminase and endomysium.