The in vitro effects of enzymatic digested gliadin on the functionality of the autophagy process

Federico Manai, Alberto Azzalin, Fabio Gabriele, Carolina Martinelli, Martina Morandi, Marco Biggiogera, Mauro Bozzola, Sergio Comincini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gliadin, the alcohol-soluble protein fraction of wheat, contains the factor toxic for celiac disease (CD), and its toxicity is not reduced by digestion with gastro-pancreatic enzymes. Importantly, it is proved that an innate immunity to gliadin plays a key role in the development of CD. The immune response induces epithelial stress and reprograms intraepithelial lymphocytes into natural killer (NK)-like cells, leading to enterocyte apoptosis and an increase in epithelium permeability. In this contribution, we have reported that in Caco-2 cells the administration of enzymatically digested gliadin (PT-gliadin) reduced significantly the expression of the autophagy-related marker LC3-II. Furthermore, electron and fluorescent microscope analysis suggested a compromised functionality of the autophagosome apparatus. The rescue of the dysregulated autophagy process, along with a reduction of PT-gliadin toxicity, was obtained with a starvation induction protocol and by 3-methyladenine administration, while rapamycin, a well-known autophagy inducer, did not produce a significant improvement in the clearance of extra- and intra-cellular fluorescent PT-gliadin amount. Altogether, our results highlighted the possible contribution of the autophagy process in the degradation and in the reduction of extra-cellular release of gliadin peptides and suggest novel molecular targets to counteract gliadin-induced toxicity in CD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number635
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 23 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Autophagosome
  • Caco-2 cells
  • Celiac disease
  • Gluten

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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