Research Topic

Recent Breakthrough in Gluten Contamination

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Gluten contamination is a serious health issue for celiac disease patients. Celiac individuals are extremely sensitive to the toxic fragments of gluten, a heterogeneous protein found in wheat and related grains. Exposure to even a small amount of gluten can trigger an intense immunological reaction sufficient ...

Gluten contamination is a serious health issue for celiac disease patients. Celiac individuals are extremely sensitive to the toxic fragments of gluten, a heterogeneous protein found in wheat and related grains. Exposure to even a small amount of gluten can trigger an intense immunological reaction sufficient to restore clinical symptoms. The only accepted treatment so far is life-long adherence to a strict gluten-free diet. However, following a gluten-free diet is challenging because, due to its viscoelastic properties, gluten is used in almost all food and non-food industries. Whilst commercially available gluten-free products are thought to be a reliable source for gluten-free food, significant gluten contamination in commercial gluten-free products has been reported in the last years. A safe threshold of gluten (<20 mg/kg) is established by the regulatory authorities (Codex Alimentarius, European Commission) but accurately quantifying such a diminutive amount remains challenging.

There are several methods available to quantify gluten and these can be categorized into two broad classes (i.e., immunological and non-immunological methods). The immunological (antibody-based ELISA) method is currently the most reliable, versatile and considered as method-of-choice to quantify gluten in food products. However, due to certain limitations, the ELISA method does not provide an accurate gluten quantification, especially in the case of hydrolyzed and high heat-processed food samples. In the last decades, several non-immunological methods have been evaluated for precise gluten quantification. Among these methods, DNA specific genomics methods (i.e., PCR, QC-PCR, RT-PCR, real-time immune-PCR) may be more sensitive than ELISA, but its application could be a challenge in foods where gluten is present and its gene is destroyed or removed. Proteomics based methods (i.e., column chromatography, gel permeation chromatography, MALDI-TOF MS, LC-MS/MS, NIR spectroscopy) have also been established as a method to accurately quantify gluten. However, due to their respective drawbacks, these approaches are not regularly in use. In recent years, biosensors (gold nanoparticle-based immune-sensors) were found to be a highly specific test for the gluten quantification, but these tests require further validation. Despite these various tools, gluten contamination remains a significant issue. There is certainly a need to be updated about current gluten detection approaches along with their limitations in order to develop a reliable gluten tracking method with high accuracy and precision.

This Research Topic aims to provide comprehensive information about current approaches to accurately detect and quantify gluten in food products. The topic will also cover the possibilities of novel evolving gluten detection methods. Subtopics of interest include (but are not limited to):
• Current status of gluten contamination in gluten-free products
• Novel methods to detect gluten quantity
• Gluten residues quantification in clinical trials on celiac disease
• Gluten detection in non-food items (e.g., toothpaste, lip balm)
• Gluten quantification in biological samples (e.g., stool and urine)
• Investigation of gluten in oats
• Comparison between immunological and non-immunological gluten detection methods
• Gluten contamination in gluten-free restaurants/food industries
• Home-based devices to detect gluten


Keywords: Celiac Disease, Gluten Contamination, Gluten-free Diet, Gliadin, ELISA


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