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Keywords:

  • ELISPOT;
  • in-vivo challenge;
  • interferon-γ;
  • peripheral blood;
  • wheat gluten

Summary

It has been reported that interferon (IFN)-γ-secreting T cells reactive to gluten can be detected in the peripheral blood of individuals with treated coeliac disease (CD) after a short consumption of wheat-containing food. By contrast, very little is known about the reproducibility of this in-vivo procedure in the same patient cohort which underwent two, or more, gluten consumptions. Fourteen coeliac patients in remission consumed wheat bread for 3 days; 13 underwent a second gluten challenge after a wash-out of 3–10 months on a strict gluten-free diet. Immune reactivity to gluten was analysed in peripheral blood by detecting IFN-γ before and 6 days after commencing a gluten diet. Gliadin-specific IFN-γ-secreting CD4+ T cells increased significantly on day 6 of the first challenge. These cells resulted as prevalently human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-DQ restricted and with a phenotype of gut homing, as suggested by the expression of β7-integrin. Similarly, reactiveness to gliadin was observed after the second wheat consumption, although with an individual variability of responses at each challenge. Our findings confirmed that the short wheat challenge is a non-invasive approach to investigate the gluten-related immune response in peripheral blood of subjects intolerant to gluten. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the in-vivo procedure can be reproduced in the same subject cohort after a gluten wash-out of at least 3 months. Our study has important implications for the application of this procedure to clinical practice.