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J AOAC Int. 2012 Mar-Apr;95(2):356-63.

Detoxification of gluten by means of enzymatic treatment.

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  • 1German Research Center for Food Chemistry, Freising, Germany.


Celiac disease (CD) is an inflammatory disease of the upper small intestine in genetically predisposed individuals caused by glutamine- and proline-rich peptides from cereal storage proteins (gluten) with a minimal length of nine amino acids. Such peptides are insufficiently degraded by gastrointestinal enzymes; they permeate the lymphatic tissue, are bound to celiac-specific, antigen-presenting cells, and stimulate intestinal T-cells. The typical clinical pattern is a flat small intestinal mucosa and malabsorption. Currently, the only therapy is a strict, lifelong gluten-free diet. Recent research has shown that gluten and gluten peptides can be degraded by prolyl endopeptidases from different sources. These peptidases can either be used to produce gluten-free foods from gluten-containing raw materials, or they have been suggested as an oral therapy for CD, in which dietary gluten is hydrolyzed by coingested peptidases already in the stomach, thus preventing CD-specific immune reactions in the small intestine. This would be an alternative for CD patients to the gluten-free diet. Furthermore, microbial transglutaminase could be used to detoxify gluten either by selectively modifying glutamine residues of intact gluten by transamidation with lysine methyl ester or by crosslinking gluten peptides in beverages via isopeptide bonds so that they can be removed by filtration.

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