Celiac disease (CD) is a common lifelong food intolerance triggered by dietary gluten affecting 1% of the general population. Gliadin-specific T-cell lines and T-cell clones obtained from intestinal biopsies have provided great support in the investigation of immuno-pathogenesis of CD. In the early 2000 a new in vivo, less invasive, approach was established aimed to evaluate the adaptive gliadin-specific T-cell response in peripheral blood of celiac patients on a gluten free diet. In fact, it has been demonstrated that three days of ingestion of wheat-containing food induces the mobilization of memory T lymphocytes reactive against gliadin from gut-associated lymphoid tissue into peripheral blood of CD patients. Such antigen-specific T-cells releasing interferon-γ can be transiently detected by using the enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assays or by flow cytometry tetramer technology. This paper discusses the suitability of this in vivo tool to investigate the repertoire of gluten pathogenic peptides, to support CD diagnosis, and to assess the efficacy of novel therapeutic strategies. A systematic review of all potential applications of short oral gluten challenge is provided.
Keywords: ELISPOT; celiac disease; gluten challenge; interferon-γ.