Objectives: This study was aimed at showing the safety, for young patients with celiac disease (CD), of sweet baked goods made of wheat flour, which was rendered gluten-free during sourdough fermentation.
Methods and results: As shown by R5 antibody-based sandwich and competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), selected lactobacilli and fungal proteases, routinely used in bakeries, degraded gluten to <10 ppm during sourdough fermentation. The resulting flour was mainly a mixture of water-/salt-soluble low-size peptides and free amino acids. Gliadin and glutenin fractions extracted from the pepsin-trypsin (PT) digest of the fermented wheat flour induced the expression of interferon (IFN)-γ at the level comparable with the negative control. After fermentation, the wheat flour was spray dried and used for making sweet baked goods. Eight patients with CD in remission were enrolled for the clinical challenge, and they daily consumed 200 g of sweet baked goods equivalent to 10 g of native gluten. Hematology, serology (total serum IgA, IgG and IgA antigluten, endomysial and tissue transglutaminase IgA antibodies), and intestinal permeability analyses were carried out over time. One patient interrupted the trial after 15 days and another after 30 days only due to difficulties in the compliance of the daily consumption. All of the other patients showed normal values of hematology, serology, and intestinal permeability during 60 days of challenge.
Conclusions: This study showed that a wheat flour-fermented product, having gluten completely degraded, is not toxic for patients with CD. Nevertheless, these foods should not be recommended for patients with celiac disease until a formal trial has been done.