What is gliadin?

Gliadin is a protein, found in wheat and other grains, that is responsible for triggering the symptoms of celiac disease and wheat allergies in sensitive people. The antibodies produced by the body against it provide a method of evaluating these disorders. This protein is the reason many people follow a gluten-free diet.

Gluten is a combination of seed proteins in wheat that allows bread to rise properly. There are two proteins that comprise gluten, and one of them is gliadin. Unfortunately, many people have a genetic predisposition to be sensitive to this protein. In its most severe form, this manifests as celiac disease, a disease of the small intestine in which food is not properly absorbed. There are many other symptoms associated with this disease, including neurological disorders, but it can be reversed once gluten is removed from the diet.

In people with celiac disease, the body produces antibodies against gliadin that can be detected in a test to detect the presence of the disorder. There are different types of gliadins, and the body makes different types of antibodies depending on the type of protein present. Together these are known as anti-gliadin antibodies (AGA). An entirely different antibody is produced in response to each of the different forms of the protein, which is just one of a group that can cause people to develop allergies to wheat.

The specificity of AGA antibodies is approximately 85%. In an effort to produce more specific antibodies, researchers have experimented with using purified gliadin, or its broken down fragments, as the target for producing antibodies. The breakdown products of proteins are called peptides, and a gliadin peptide, made from the part of the protein that is highly effective in inducing antibodies, has been chemically synthesized. Such synthetic peptides may be much better at inducing antibody production than using the whole protein.

Recent studies with these antibodies show that more people suffer from gliadin sensitivity than originally thought. While you don't have celiac disease, 10-15% of Americans suffer from a variety of symptoms. A positive reaction to these antibodies indicates that they should consider changing their diet and perhaps trying to eliminate all gluten.

In addition to diagnosing diseases in humans, a highly specific gliadin antibody can be used to detect the presence of gluten in foods. This is highly significant, as wheat gluten tends to contaminate many foods that one would not expect to contain any form of wheat. The new procedures can detect wheat at values ​​as low as one part per million (ppm). This test can help provide gluten-free products to people who have celiac disease or gluten allergies.

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