Gluten is a big protein network composed of monomeric fraction (prolamins) and polymeric fraction (glutelins), occurring in many cereal-based products, especially in those containing wheat. Gluten peptides can trigger food allergies and intolerances, including inflammatory reactions as the celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine characterized by mucosal degeneration and villous atrophy. The treatment is the permanent exclusion of gluten from diet. However, gluten analysis is a very difficult task, due to the high complexity of polypeptides and the lack of consensus on the most appropriate analytical method. Proteomics approaches, combining liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry in tandem (LC-MS/MS), have been pointed as the most promising non-immunological techniques for gluten detection. LC-MS analyses associated with bioinformatics and specific-prolamin database can solve methodological limitations since it is based on the accurate molecular mass of peptide biomarkers. One of the major contributions of proteomics has been the identification of epitopes of gluten peptides responsible for wheat-related diseases. Recent works have defined grain-specific gluten peptides and also the lowest concentration at which peptides could be confidently detected. Proteomic application for gluten quantification should support not only regulatory limits in processed foods, but also the safety of consumers about food labeled as gluten-free.
Part of the book: Celiac Disease and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity