The molecular basis of celiac disease

J Mol Recognit. Sep-Oct 2003;16(5):333-6. doi: 10.1002/jmr.641.


Celiac disease is caused by inflammatory, gluten specific T cell responses in the small intestine. Invariably such responses are HLA-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8 restricted, providing an explanation for the strong association between celiac disease and these HLA-class II alleles. It is now clear that some native gluten sequences can bind to HLA-DQ2/8 and induce T cell responses. In addition, modification of gluten peptides by the enzyme tissue transglutaminase results in high affinity HLA-DQ2/8 binding peptides that can induce T cell responses. Thus, gluten molecules contain a large number of immunogenic peptides and this is likely to play an important role in the breaking of oral tolerance to gluten.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Celiac Disease / metabolism*
  • Glutens / immunology*
  • Glutens / metabolism
  • HLA-DQ Antigens / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Peptides / immunology*
  • Transglutaminases / metabolism


  • HLA-DQ Antigens
  • Peptides
  • Glutens
  • Transglutaminases