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Eur J Immunol. 1999 Oct;29(10):3133-9.

Glutenin is involved in the gluten-driven mucosal T cell response.

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Department of Immunohaematology and Bloodbank, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.


Gluten ingestion causes coeliac disease in susceptible individuals. Gluten is a heterogeneous mixture of glutenin and gliadin, the latter of which is considered responsible for disease induction. By combining high-performance liquid chromatography purification steps of gluten with a T cell bioassay and mass spectral analyses, we have identified a glutenin peptide (glt04 707-742) that activates T cells from the small intestine of a coeliac disease patient and results in the secretion of large amounts of IFN-gamma. The minimal T cell stimulatory core of the peptide (residues 724-734) is repetitively present in glutenin molecules. Moreover, it was observed that a large number of naturally occurring variants of this peptide are recognized by the T cells. These data suggest that the large heterogeneity of glutenin proteins dramatically increases the number of available T cell epitopes. Together, the results provide new insight into the nature of the gluten antigens that lead to coeliac disease and suggest that glutenin, next to gliadin-derived antigens, may be involved in the disease process.

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