For celiac patients, finding out whether they’ve been glutened may soon get easier and more accurate thanks to the development of a test that can detect the presence of gluten immunogenic peptides (GIP) in urine.
A new study, presented at the International Celiac Disease Symposium in Prague in early August, shows that researchers were able to detect GIPs in urine after consumption of as little as 50 milligrams of gluten, as early as four to six hours after gluten intake and up to one to two days afterwards.
That means the new test can detect the smallest amount of gluten known to cause damage to celiac patients’ intestines.
“If you take a one-ounce slice of ‘regular’ white bread and break it into 7,030 pieces, each of these pieces contains 0.57 mg of gluten. You can think of this as just a crumb,” Tricia Thompson, the dietitian who behind Gluten Free WatchDog, said in an interview for NFCA’s website.
As researchers moved ahead to trial the urine detection test in “real-life” situations with both celiac patients and a control group of non-celiac patients, they found that more than 50 percent of the celiac group had detectable levels of GIPs in their urine.
This, the study authors say, is proof that following a gluten-free diet does not guarantee against exposure, either voluntary or involuntary, and that a urine test like the one developed could be used to offer people a way to monitor true compliance with their gluten-free regimen.
Noting that the intestinal health of the vast majority (80 percent) of those without detectable GIPs was far better than those with detectable levels, researchers say there is a strong correlation between GIP levels in urine and damage to the gut.