Maize prolamins resistant to peptic-tryptic digestion maintain immune-recognition by IgA from some celiac disease patients

Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2012 Mar;67(1):24, 30. doi: 10.1007/s11130-012-0274-4.


Maize is used as an alternative to wheat to elaborate food stuffs for celiac patients in a gluten-free diet.However, some maize prolamins (zeins) contain amino acid sequences that resemble the wheat gluten immunodominant peptides and their integrity after gastrointestinal proteolysisis unknown. In this study, the celiac IgA-immunoreactivity to zeins from raw or nixtamalized grains, before and after peptic/tryptic digestion was evaluated and their possible immunogenicity was investigated by in silico methods.IgA from some celiac patients with HLA-DQ2 or DQ8 haplotypes recognized two alpha-zeins even after peptic/ tryptic proteolysis. However, digestion affected zeins after denaturation, reduction, and alkylation, used for identification of prolamins as alpha-zein A20 and A30 by MS/MS sequencing. An in silico analysis indicated that other zeins contain similar sequences, or sequences that may bind even better to the HLA-DQ2/DQ8 molecules compared to the already identified ones. Results concur to indicate that relative abundance of these zeins, along with factors affecting their resistance to proteolysis, may be of paramount clinical relevance, and the use of maize in the formulation and preparation of gluten-free foods must be reevaluated in some cases of celiac disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Celiac Disease / diet therapy
  • Celiac Disease / immunology*
  • Child
  • Diet, Gluten-Free
  • HLA-DQ Antigens / immunology
  • Haplotypes
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / immunology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Prolamins / chemistry
  • Prolamins / immunology*
  • Triticum / chemistry
  • Triticum / immunology
  • Zea mays / chemistry*
  • Zea mays / immunology
  • Zein / chemistry
  • Zein / immunology


  • HLA-DQ Antigens
  • HLA-DQ2 antigen
  • HLA-DQ8 antigen
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Prolamins
  • Zein