Immunogenicity of two oat varieties, in relation to their safety for celiac patients

Scand J Gastroenterol. 2011 Oct;46(10):1194-205. doi: 10.3109/00365521.2011.603159. Epub 2011 Aug 15.


Objective: Most of the recent studies suggest that oats are well tolerated by celiac disease (CD) patients. However, it is still possible that different oat cultivars may display different biological properties relevant for CD pathogenesis. We aimed to investigate biological and immunological properties of two oat varieties, Avena genziana and Avena potenza, in relation to their safety for CD patients.

Material and methods: Phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and trans-epithelial electrical resistance (TEER) were evaluated in CaCo-2 cells treated with peptic-tryptic (PT) digests from the two oats and from gliadin (PTG). With the same PT-digests, duodenal biopsies from 22 CD patients were treated in vitro for 24 h and density of CD25+ cells in lamina propria and of intraepithelial CD3+ T cells was measured, as well as crypt cell proliferation and epithelial expression of interleukin 15. Finally, interferon γ (IFN-γ) production was measured as evidence of gliadin-specific T-cell activation by PT-digests.

Results: In contrast to PTG, oats PT-digests were not able to induce significant increase in ERK phosphorylation and decrease in TEER in CaCo-2 cells. In the organ culture system, oats PT-digests, unlike PTG, did not induce significant increase in crypt enterocyte proliferation, increase in interleukin 15 expression or in lamina propria CD25+ cells. Nevertheless Avena potenza increased intraepithelial T-cell density, while Avena genziana-induced IFN-γ production in 3/8 CD intestinal T cell lines.

Conclusions: Our data show that Avena genziana and Avena potenza do not display in vitro activities related to CD pathogenesis. Some T-cell reactivity could be below the threshold for clinical relevance.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Avena / adverse effects*
  • Avena / immunology*
  • Biopsy
  • CD3 Complex / metabolism
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Celiac Disease / immunology*
  • Celiac Disease / pathology*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Electric Impedance
  • Enterocytes / cytology
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases / metabolism
  • Gliadin / immunology
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Interleukin-15 / metabolism
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / cytology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Middle Aged
  • Phosphorylation
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism
  • Young Adult


  • CD3 Complex
  • Interleukin-15
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Gliadin
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases