About this Research Topic
Gluten is the collective name for a class of proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley. Eating gluten triggers an inappropriate autoimmune reaction in the ∼70 million people globally affected by celiac disease (CD), which causes the gut to react to gluten with intestinal inflammation and epithelial cell damage. In addition, wheat proteins may trigger respiratory, skin or food allergies and non-celiac gluten/wheat sensitivity (NCGS). Recently, more and more evidence has been emerging to support an increasing prevalence of gluten-related disorders in the population. This increase in prevalence has been too quick to be explained by genetic drift, pointing towards a change in environmental exposures as risk modifiers.
Gluten-free (GF) foods are now commonplace; offering consumers greater choice and availability. While many of these foods are made from non-gluten-containing grains, contamination of these inherently gluten-free products can occur during harvest, transport or processing. Moreover, these foods are expensive and may be nutritionally inferior to gluten-containing products. The differences in nutritional properties of GF foods has led to research on ways to remove or reduce gluten from wheat and barley in order to provide new fibre, mineral and vitamin options for those who must avoid gluten. This has led to research in classical plant breeding and the use of gene technology. An alternative approach to producing celiac-safe foods is via processing, wherein processes, such as separation, filtration, and/or application of enzymes, aim to remove gluten from gluten-containing ingredients. With many of these processed products entering the market, questions remain over the safety of these products and controversy over a suitable test to determine the gluten content remains. The question why an increasing number of people are affected by gluten-related disorders also needs to be answered. While improved diagnostics and awareness may partly explain the rise, further factors such as the use of vital wheat gluten in many food products, changes in wheat processing and in wheat protein composition may be responsible. In addition, it has been proposed that other environmental factors such as introduction of gluten to infant diets, breastfeeding patterns, alterations in the gut microbiota and infections could also dictate the development of gluten-related disorders.
This Research Topic will contain contributions from leading experts in the fields of plant breeding, food processing, health science, and gluten analysis to share their latest findings and help improve the quality and safety of foods for CD patients and other gluten-related disorders.
We welcome the following article types: Original Research, Methods, and Reviews in the areas of plant breeding, food processing, environmental modifiers of disease, gluten detection and related areas of research.
Keywords: gluten, celiac disease, cereal breeding, food processing, wheat
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.