Background & Aims: Celiac disease is characterized by activation of HLA-DQ2/DQ8-restricted intestinal gluten-specific CD4+ T cells. In particular, gluten becomes a better T-cell antigen following deamidation catalyzed by tissue transglutaminase. To date, the only available therapy is represented by adherence to a gluten-free diet. Here, we examined a new enzyme strategy to preventively abolish gluten activity. Methods: Enzyme modifications of the immunodominant α-gliadin peptide p56-68 were analyzed by mass spectrometry, and peptide binding to HLA-DQ2 was simulated by modeling studies. Wheat flour was treated with microbial transglutaminase and lysine methyl ester; gliadin was subsequently extracted, digested, and deamidated. Gliadin-specific intestinal T-cell lines (iTCLs) were generated from biopsy specimens from 12 adult patients with celiac disease and challenged in vitro with different antigen preparations. Results: Tissue transglutaminase-mediated transamidation with lysine or lysine methyl ester of p56-68 or gliadin in alkaline conditions inhibited the interferon γ expression in iTCLs; also, binding to DQ2 was reduced but not abolished, as suggested by in silico analysis. Lysine methyl ester was particularly effective in abrogating the activity of gliadin. Notably, a block in the response was observed when iTCLs were challenged with gliadin extracted from flour pretreated with microbial transglutaminase and lysine methyl ester. Conclusions: Transamidation of wheat flour with a food-grade enzyme and an appropriate amine donor can be used to block the T cell-mediated gliadin activity. Considering the crucial role of adaptive immunity in celiac disease, our findings highlight the potential of the proposed treatment to prevent cereal toxicity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas