Digestibility of gluten proteins is reduced by baking and enhanced by starch digestion.

Frances Smith, Xiaoyan Pan, Vincent Bellido, Geraldine A. Toole, Fred K. Gates, Martin S. J. Wickham, Peter R Shewry, Serafim Bakalis, Philip Padfield, Clare Mills

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


SCOPE: Resistance of proteins to gastrointestinal digestion may play a role in determining immune-mediated adverse reactions to foods. However, digestion studies have largely been restricted to purified proteins and the impact of food processing and food matrices on protein digestibility is poorly understood. METHODS AND RESULTS: Digestibility of a total gliadin fraction (TGF), flour (cv Hereward), and bread was assessed using in vitro batch digestion with simulated oral, gastric, and duodenal phases. Protein digestion was monitored by SDS-PAGE and immunoblotting using monoclonal antibodies specific for celiac-toxic sequences (QQSF, QPFP) and starch digestion by measuring undigested starch. Whereas the TGF was rapidly digested during the gastric phase the gluten proteins in bread were virtually undigested and digested rapidly during the duodenal phase only if amylase was included. Duodenal starch digestion was also slower in the absence of duodenal proteases. CONCLUSION: The baking process reduces the digestibility of wheat gluten proteins, including those containing sequences active in celiac disease. Starch digestion affects the extent of protein digestion, probably because of gluten-starch complex formation during baking. Digestion studies using purified protein fractions alone are therefore not predictive of digestion in complex food matrices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2034–2043
JournalMolecular Nutrition & Food Research (Online)
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015


  • Allergen
  • Baking
  • Celiac
  • Digestion
  • Gluten


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