If you have an immune system disorder called celiac disease or are allergic to gluten (or know that someone who is), then you know that eating the wrong thing can lead to severe pain.
Even though the role of gluten in celiac disease has been known for 60 years, researchers have just pinpointed the peptide sequence in gluten that cause the body's immune system to wreak havoc in your tummy:
Bob Anderson, a celiac disease researcher at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Victoria, Australia, and fellow researchers recruited more than 200 celiac disease patients for their study. Participants ate servings of bread, rye muffins or boiled barley for three days. Six days after the experiment started, the researchers drew blood samples.
They tested the samples to see how strongly immune cells in the blood reacted to more than 2,700 different gluten peptides (relatively short chains of amino acids). Ninety of the peptides elicited some response, and three in particular generated the biggest reaction.
"The holy grail in celiac disease research has been to identify the toxic peptide components of gluten, and that's what we've done," Anderson said in a statement. "These three components account for the majority of the immune response to gluten."