Bio-markers of Not-celiac Wheat Sensitivity

Study Purpose

The aim of the investigators' study is to evaluate biochemical, immunological and histological characteristics of patients affected with the so-called "gluten (or wheat) sensitivity" who suffers from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)-like symptoms. As it is not known what component of the cereals causes the symptoms in so called "gluten-sensitive" patients, the investigators prefer to speak of "not-celiac wheat sensitivity" (NCWS). NCWS patients may be defined as ones, neither celiac or allergic to wheat, who develop symptoms following wheat consumption, that improved on wheat/gluten free diet (GFD). For our research, we will select adult patients, both genders, affected with suspected NCWS (i.e. with symptoms/signs which disappeared on GFD and worsen on a gluten containing diet, testing negative for celiac disease [anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies, anti-tTG, and anti-endomysium antibodies, EMA, and with biopsy Marsh 0-1] and wheat allergy [serum specific IgE for wheat]). The patients will be recruited at the Department of Internal Medicine, 'Giovanni Paolo II' Hospital of Sciacca (Agrigento), and of Internal Medicine of the University of Palermo, from January 2012 to October 2013, for IBS-like symptoms. At the time of the recruitment, the patients will be on GFD by at least one month and must be asymptomatic. A more restricted elimination diet (with the exclusion of cow's milk, egg and other foods) could be prescribed in patients who are suspected to suffer from multiple food hypersensitivity. The patients will be randomized to undergo a double-blind placebo-controlled study, assuming wheat flour or placebo, administered daily for 15 days. Before and after the challenge, the investigators will evaluate gastrointestinal (Gastrointestinal Symptom Rating Scale, GSRS) and the investigators will collect blood and fecal sampling and biopsies from endoscopic evaluation (both esophagogastroduodenoscopy and rectoscopy, with multiple biopsies), for the identification of possible markers (serological, biochemical, immunological, histological features, expression of cytokines and other constitutive mucosal proteins from peripheral blood mononuclear cells, mucosal lymphocytes and fecal biomarkers) that may be of help to diagnose the condition of NCWS and to understand its pathogenesis.

Recruitment Criteria

Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Healthy volunteers are participants who do not have a disease or condition, or related conditions or symptoms

Study Type

An interventional clinical study is where participants are assigned to receive one or more interventions (or no intervention) so that researchers can evaluate the effects of the interventions on biomedical or health-related outcomes.

An observational clinical study is where participants identified as belonging to study groups are assessed for biomedical or health outcomes.

Searching Both is inclusive of interventional and observational studies.

Eligible Ages 18 Years - 65 Years
Gender All
More Inclusion & Exclusion Criteria

Inclusion Criteria:

  • - Adult patients, both genders, with age between 18-65 years, with IBS-like symptoms, that improved on a gluten free diet and worsen on a gluten containing diet.
  • - Patients testing negative for celiac disease ( anti-tTG and EMA negative, and with biopsy Marsh 0-1) and wheat allergy (serum specific igE for wheat negative)

    Exclusion Criteria:

    - Subjects diagnosed with celiac disease (positive anti-tTG and/or EMA, and positive histology, with Marsh 2 or above); - Subjects diagnosed with wheat allergy (positive serum specific IgE for wheat) - Subjects with Type 1 Diabetes.
  • - Subjects with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis) - Subjects with Helicobacter pylori infection and other gastrointestinal infection.
- Pregnancy

Trial Details

Trial ID:

This trial id was obtained from, a service of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, providing information on publicly and privately supported clinical studies of human participants with locations in all 50 States and in 196 countries.


Phase 1: Studies that emphasize safety and how the drug is metabolized and excreted in humans.

Phase 2: Studies that gather preliminary data on effectiveness (whether the drug works in people who have a certain disease or condition) and additional safety data.

Phase 3: Studies that gather more information about safety and effectiveness by studying different populations and different dosages and by using the drug in combination with other drugs.

Phase 4: Studies occurring after FDA has approved a drug for marketing, efficacy, or optimal use.

Lead Sponsor

The sponsor is the organization or person who oversees the clinical study and is responsible for analyzing the study data.

University of Palermo
Principal Investigator

The person who is responsible for the scientific and technical direction of the entire clinical study.

Antonio Carroccio, PHD, MD
Principal Investigator Affiliation Internal Medicine, 'Giovanni Paolo II' Hospital of Sciacca (Agrigento) and University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy
Agency Class

Category of organization(s) involved as sponsor (and collaborator) supporting the trial.

Overall Status Recruiting
Countries Italy

The disease, disorder, syndrome, illness, or injury that is being studied.

Not-celiac Wheat Sensitivity
Additional Details

Gluten is the most important protein component of some grains, notably wheat, rye, and barley, which are the basis for a variety of wheat-derived alimentary products consumed throughout the world (bread, pasta, pizza etc). However the "engineering" of gluten-containing grains created the conditions for human diseases related to gluten exposure. These forms of gluten intolerance represent a heterogeneous set of conditions, including celiac disease, wheat allergy and gluten sensitivity (GS), that, combined, seems to affect about 10% of the general population. The frequency of not-celiac GS is however still unknown, even though it is possible that this condition have been undiagnosed and under-diagnosed by the physicians for a long time. The immune responsiveness to wheat antigens represents a complex process, and its establishment and maintenance are not completely elucidated. The most frequent diseases caused by wheat ingestion are T cell-mediated disorders, i.e. celiac disease and IgE-mediated allergic reactions. However, besides celiac disease and wheat allergy, there are cases of gluten reactions in which neither autoimmune nor IgE-mediated allergic mechanisms are involved. These are generally defined as GS. Some subjects, who experience symptoms when eating gluten-containing products and show improvement when following a gluten-free diet (GFD), may have GS instead of celiac disease or wheat allergy. GS patients are unable to tolerate gluten and develop an adverse reaction when eating gluten, that, usually, and differently from celiac disease, does not lead to small intestinal damage. Gastrointestinal symptoms in GS patients may resemble those associated with celiac disease, but the overall clinical picture is generally less severe and is not accompanied by the occurrence of autoantibodies (i.e. anti-tTG or EMA) or autoimmune disease (i.e. Hashimoto's thyroiditis). Typically, the diagnosis is made by exclusion, and an elimination diet and an "open challenge" (i.e., the monitored reintroduction of gluten-containing foods) are most often used to evaluate whether health improves or worsen with the elimination or reintroduction of gluten in the diet, respectively. Gluten-sensitivity can cause both gastrointestinal and extra-intestinal symptoms; among the former, the most frequent are IBS-like symptoms including abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation and alternate bowel habit. However, as it is not known what component of the cereals causes the symptoms in so called "gluten-sensitive" patients, we prefer to speak of "Not-celiac wheat sensitivity" (NCWS). Furthermore, in our experience, NCWS patients can suffer from multiple food hypersensitivity and need of a more restricted diet with the elimination of cow's milk, egg and other foods, in addition to wheat. For these reasons, before to undergo the gluten challenge, the patients will undergo an oligoantigenic diet. This study has two major aims: 1. Evaluation of the effective dependence from the wheat of the IBS-like manifestations presented by subjects with suspected NCWS. The study will be done after a period of GFD, comparing two groups of suspected NCWS subjects: administering wheat flour or placebo (for 15 days). 2. Identification of possible markers (serological, biochemical, immunological, histological features, expression of cytokines and other constitutive mucosal proteins from peripheral blood mononuclear cells, mucosal lymphocytes and fecal biomarkers) that may be of help to diagnose the condition of NCWS. In particular, the investigators will search for markers of NCWS in the colon mucosa of the patients with IBS-like symptoms.

Arms & Interventions


Active Comparator: wheat flour

wheat flour is administered blindly versus placebo for 15 days

Placebo Comparator: Xylose

placebo will be administered blindly versus wheat flour for 15 days


Dietary Supplement: - wheat flour

wheat flour is administered three times per day for 15 days

Dietary Supplement: - Xylose

Xylose will be administered three times per day for 15 days

Contact a Trial Team

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International Sites

Sciacca, Agrigento, Italy




Internal Medicine, "Giovanni Paolo II" Hospital

Sciacca, Agrigento,

Site Contact

Antonio Carroccio, PHD


Internal Medicine, University Hospital, Palermo, Italy




Internal Medicine, University Hospital

Palermo, , 90100

Site Contact

Antonio Carroccio, PHD


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