Author: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer

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Last updated on: 12.12.2021

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Adhesive protein; Glue

General information
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The insoluble "gluten" of cereals such as wheat, oats, rye, spelt, barley, green spelt or kamut, consisting of gliadin and glutenin. Gluten predominantly determines the baking quality ("gas retention capacity") of the grain. They can bind water up to three times their weight and develop rubber-like elastic and plastic properties when they become moist. In dough preparations they form skeleton-like structures and ensure, among other things, that a fine-pored, loose dough is formed which does not separate during baking. Wheat provides the highest quantity and quality of gluten.

Gliadins consist of a single polypeptide chain with intermolecular disulfide bridges. A toxic fraction is formed by enzymatic action (pepsin, pancreatic enzymes) and consists of acid-soluble polypeptides with molecular weights between 0.5 and 1 kD. Gliadins are particularly poorly tolerated by rye and wheat.

Closely related are the avenin of oats and the hordein of barley. Of note is some sequence homology of alpha-gliadin with a protein encoded by adenovirus type 12. Since this virus occurs in the intestine, this could be the starting point of a cross-reaction (Jäger L et al. 2001).

The triggering of autoimmunological reactions against gluten components (gliadin) has been described and is pathogenetically significant in the following cases, among others

In these cases, autoantibodies against individual members of the transglutaminase enzyme family develop. In DhD, the intestinal changes often initially remain clinically asymptomatic, which is why DhD patients do not change their diet. High affinity anti-TG autoantibodies probably develop only after several years of gluten provocation.

Wheat glutens are significant allergens and triggers of IgE-mediated wheat-dependent exertion-induced anaphylaxis (WDEIA).

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  1. Jäger L et al (2001) Food allergies and intolerances. Urban & Fischer Publishing House Munich, Jena S 61
  2. Nilsson N et al (2015) Wheat allergy in children evaluated with challenge and IgE antibodies to wheat components. Pediatric Allergy Immunol 26:119-125.
  3. Rodríguez del Río Pet al. (2014) Oral immunotherapy in children with IgE-mediated wheat allergy: outcome and molecular changes. J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 24: 240-248.
  4. Sievers S et al (2016) Wheat protein recognition pattern in tolerant and allergic children. Pediatric Allergy Immunol 27:147-155.


Last updated on: 12.12.2021