Background & aims: The resistance of prolamines to digestive enzymes is thought to be a key contributor to the pathogenesis of celiac disease by promoting the intestinal entrance of peptides able to trigger inflammation in at-risk individuals. Oral administration of a bacterial prolyl-endopeptidase (PEP) therefore was proposed as a treatment for celiac disease. To delineate the feasibility of this treatment, the effect of PEP on gliadin peptides was assessed in vitro, and ex vivo during their transport across intestinal biopsy specimens of active celiac disease patients.
Methods: In vitro degradation by PEP of 3H-labeled gliadin peptides 56-88 (33-mer) and 31-49, was analyzed by radio-reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. For ex vivo studies, PEP and 3H-peptides were added together onto the mucosal side of duodenal biopsy specimens mounted in Ussing chambers, and peptide transport and digestion were assessed by radio-reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography.
Results: Gliadin peptides were degraded partly by 20 mU/mL PEP both in vitro and ex vivo. This concentration of PEP decreased the amount of intact peptides 31-49 and 56-88 crossing the intestinal biopsy specimens of celiac disease patients, but could not prevent the intestinal passage of toxic or immunostimulatory metabolites. PEP concentrations of at least 500 mU/mL for 3 hours were required to achieve full detoxification of peptides and to prevent intestinal transport of active fragments.
Conclusions: After prolonged exposure to high concentrations of PEP, the amount of immunostimulatory gliadin peptides reaching the local immune system in celiac patients is decreased. These results provide a basis to establish whether such conditions are achievable in vivo.