Celiac disease: in vitro and in vivo safety and palatability of wheat-free sorghum food products

Clin Nutr. 2007 Dec;26(6):799-805. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2007.05.006. Epub 2007 Aug 24.


Background & aims: Celiac disease is a condition in which genetically predisposed people have an autoimmune reaction to gluten proteins found in all wheat types and closely related cereals such as barley and rye. This reaction causes the formation of autoantibodies and the destruction of the villi in the small intestine, which results in malabsorption of nutrientsand other gluten-induced autoimmune diseases. Sorghum is a cereal grain with potential to be developed into an important crop for human food products. The flour produced from white sorghum hybrids is light in color and has a bland, neutral taste that does not impart unusual colors or flavors to food products. These attributes make it desirable for use in wheat-free food products. While sorghum is considered as a safe food for celiac patients, primarily due to its relationship to maize, no direct testing has been conducted on its safety for gluten intolerance. Therefore studies are needed to assess its safety and tolerability in celiac patients. Thus the aim of the present study was to assess safety and tolerability of sorghum flour products in adult celiac disease patients, utilizing an in vitro and in vivo challenge.

Results: Sorghum protein digests did not elicit any morphometric or immunomediated alteration of duodenal explants from celiac patients. Patients fed daily for 5 days with sorghum-derived food product did not experience gastrointestinal or non-gastrointestinal symptoms and the level of anti-transglutaminase antibodies was unmodified at the end of the 5-days challenge.

Conclusions: Sorghum-derived products did not show toxicity for celiac patients in both in vitro and in vivo challenge. Therefore sorghum can be considered safe for people with celiac disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Celiac Disease / diet therapy*
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Consumer Product Safety*
  • Female
  • Flour / analysis
  • Food Analysis
  • Food Technology*
  • Glutens / administration & dosage
  • Glutens / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sorghum / chemistry*
  • Taste*
  • Triticum / adverse effects


  • Glutens