The quote below comes from Dr Freed, written in an editorial for the British Medical Journal, to commemorate the public sacrifice of Dr Arpad Pusztai on the altar of GM agribusiness (see the last line of the editorial). Dr Freed:
"Lectins stimulate class II HLA antigens on cells that do not normally display them"
Wheat germ agglutinin is a lectin and sections of gliadin (in gluten) are "lectin like". If you have an auto immune disease the quote is quite important. What is a class II HLA antigen?
If you really really want to know you can have a look here, which explains what MHC class I and class II molecules are. It's the simplified version, including the sausage in a hot dog metaphor which made my wife laugh. Sort of. EDIT: You probably need to know she's an immunologist to understand that last comment.
Here's a rough translation.
Class II molecules sit on the surface of cells, holding out a fragment of foreign protein (in this case a short fragment of gluten). Only certain sub families of immune cells should do this, certainly it should never be done by tissue cells of organs like the pancreas or thyroid as cited by Freed. I would add joint cells in the case of rheumatoid arthritis.
Class II expression is different from MIC expression but just as bad, if not worse.
Waving around a class II molecule on your cell surface is a direct invitation to a subset of white blood cells (in particular a sub group of lymphocytes, ie those with a certain molecule called the CD4 molecule on their surface) to come and interact with the cell displaying the Class II marker. CD4 molecules generally "talk to" class II molecules.
The class II marker molecule has to be holding out a gluten fragment and the CD4+ cell has to be able to recognise that fragment for them to interact. Given this situation, things happen. The CD4 positive cell does several things, one of which is that it starts producing lymphokines. That is it causes inflammation. Note that antibody production is not needed for this to occur.
Of course once the CD4+ cell has seen gluten it may well trot off to get antibodies produced. Or it may not. The immune system is frighteningly complex. If the CD4+ cell does interact with an antibody producing lymphocyte you get this.
Avoiding gluten helps. Forget the vegan bit, it's a failure to control variables in the study and not remotely needed. The gluten avoidance is essential.
LC is very helpful too. I'll post the refs some time but basic premise is that the inflammatory soup production in response to class II/CD4 interaction is controlled to a large extent by NF kappa B, which is controlled by insulin which is controlled by carbohydrate in the diet. Insulin per se is anti inflammatory, chronic hyperinsulinaemia is pro inflammatory.
There are also non specific effects of PUFA in propagating the free radicals generated by the inflammatory response. Suet and dripping contain far more stable fats than vegetable oil does and these highly saturated fatty acids are almost immune to free radical attack in an inflammatory soup.
Vitamin D modulates the irritablity of most cells in the immune system so supplementation or serious sun bathing, without sun burn, probably has an effect to diminish all auto immune problems.
If you read the whole vegan paper you will see there was no radiographic improvement, though patients felt better. Too much carbohyrate, too many PUFA and there are several other plant sources of lectins beyond gluten. Anecdotally nightshade lectins (also mentioned by Freed) can be a potent trigger for rheumatoid arthritis in much the same way as gluten.
That's without going on to Ebringer's work on bacterial proteins and rheumatoid disease....
This aspect is probably also amenable to LC eating. Anyone with a degree of insulin resistance may well be transiently glucosuric on occasions while eating a normal diet. Bacteria love glucose. LC eating should starve any Proteus in the urinary tract because it stops any glycosuria. Proteus also lives in our gut and starving it here too, this time by fiber avoidance, would probably help.
So there are a few factors involved in rheumatoid arthritis. A serious LC, high saturated fat and minimal lectin diet should help.
As would an all over tan.