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Increased Mercury Blood Levels in Patients with Celiac Disease following a Gluten-Free Regimen

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  • Increased Mercury Blood Levels in Patients with Celiac Disease following a Gluten-Free Regimen

    Luca Elli, Valentina Rossi, Dario Conte, et al., “Increased Mercury Levels in Patients with Celiac Disease following a Gluten-Free Regimen,” Gastroenterology Research and Practice, vol. 2015, Article ID 953042, 6 pages, 2015. doi:10.1155/2015/953042
    Received 9 November 2014; Accepted 2 February 2015

    Academic Editor: Paul Enck

    Copyright © 2015 Luca Elli et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

    Background and Aim. Although mercury is involved in several immunological diseases, nothing is known about its implication in celiac disease. Our aim was to evaluate blood and urinary levels of mercury in celiac patients. Methods. We prospectively enrolled 30 celiac patients (20 treated with normal duodenal mucosa and 10 untreated with duodenal atrophy) and 20 healthy controls from the same geographic area. Blood and urinary mercury concentrations were measured by means of flow injection inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Enrolled patients underwent dental chart for amalgam fillings and completed a food-frequency questionnaire to evaluate diet and fish intake. Results. Mercury blood/urinary levels were 2.4±2.3/1.0±1.4, 10.2±6.7/2.2±3.0 and
    3.7±2.7/1.3±1.2 in untreated CD, treated CD, and healthy controls, respectively. Resulting mercury levels were significantly higher in celiac patients following a gluten-free diet. No differences were found regarding fish intake and number of amalgam fillings. No demographic or clinical data were significantly associated with mercury levels in biologic samples. Conclusion. Data demonstrate a fourfold increase of mercury blood levels in celiac patients following a gluten-free diet. Further studies are needed to clarify its role in celiac mechanism.
    1. Introduction

    Mercury (Hg) is ubiquitous environmental heavy metal, naturally originating from erosion of the volcanic rocks and accumulating in the food chain. Besides its natural presence, Hg environmental concentration is progressively increasing due to its employ in human industry and manufactures (medications, thermometers, blood-pressure cuffs, batteries, switches, and fluorescent light bulbs) [1–4]. Thus, Hg is actually considered a pollutant and, due to its deleterious effects on humans, it is generally considered toxic especially for the nervous system [5]. Mercury main sources for human being are represented by fish consumption, dental amalgams, and vaccines [4, 6].

    In conclusion, our study demonstrates an alteration of Hg content in CD when a gluten-free regimen is followed. This result could be due to an altered response to Hg exposure, with the tendency to accumulate it. Further studies are needed to clarify if CD genetic background could generate “sensitivity” to Hg proinflammatory effect and inspire new rules for the surveillance of Hg content in food.

    Conflict of Interests

    The authors declare that there is no conflict of interests regarding the publication of this paper....

    I'm wondering if the diet could be causing mercury stored in tissues to be released into the blood stream? The levels in urine were described as "low", but I don't think there was a baseline from before the gluten-free diet, so maybe there is slow excretion. They consider that here:

    However, another factor increasing the Hg levels could be the GFD itself; in fact, GFD could have a positive effect favoring the Hg release from the intracellular stores to extracellular fluids (i.e., blood). If this process could be related to the presence of symptoms (metallic taste, foggy mind, chronic fatigue, and tremor) resembling Hg poisoning as detected in our cohort, it remains an interesting point to be investigated in large series of patients.
    Last edited by Emily; November 23rd, 2015, 02:23 AM. Reason: Fixed format so results would show up.
    “‘i love myself.’ the quietest. simplest. most powerful. revolution ever.” ---- nayyirah waheed

    Avatar: Franz Marc, Liegender Hund im Schnee 1911 (My posts are not intended as advice or professional assessments of any kind.)

  • #2
    Could it be coming from fish based supplements/oils containing high levels of mercury? If the mercury is not being released from stores in tissues where else could it be coming from?
    We were put on this earth to help and take care of one another.


    • #3
      I hope fish oil use was considered, Amish, though I don't see this mentioned in the full text. But all the random sampling studies I've seen of fish oil supplements have found no problems as far as mercury content due to the way they purify them and also the use of species low on the food chain in some brands, so maybe that would not be an issue. Whole fish can be contaminated, though I get the impression that the study didn't see fish consumption or amalgam presence as explaining why the CD patients treated and healed with the GF diet had the 4-fold increase in blood mercury.

      There are other sources of mercury in foods though, so they didn't rule out better absorption due to a healed digestion system being part of the increase. But it seems like something is going on metabolically since the treated CD group is higher than the controls and not just the untreated CD group.

      There is a lot more to learn here. I wonder if the treated group who had high mercury and uncomfortable symptoms would see that decrease over time if their accumulated mercury finally was removed? (Hopefully that would be the case since trading off healed gut lesions for symptoms of mercury poisoning is not a great deal.)

      Also I'd like to see testing done on the controls without CD after they are put on a gluten-free diet. Do their blood/urine mercury levels increase?
      Last edited by Emily; November 24th, 2015, 03:24 AM. Reason: Typo fix.
      “‘i love myself.’ the quietest. simplest. most powerful. revolution ever.” ---- nayyirah waheed

      Avatar: Franz Marc, Liegender Hund im Schnee 1911 (My posts are not intended as advice or professional assessments of any kind.)