Harnessing Aptamers to Overcome Challenges in Gluten Detection

Biosensors (Basel). 2016 Apr 20;6(2):16. doi: 10.3390/bios6020016.


Celiac disease is a lifelong autoimmune disorder triggered by foods containing gluten, the storage protein in wheat, rye, and barley. The rapidly escalating number of patients diagnosed with this disease poses a great challenge to both food industry and authorities to guarantee food safety for all. Therefore, intensive efforts are being made to establish minimal disease-eliciting doses of gluten and consequently to improve gluten-free labeling. These efforts depend to a high degree on the availability of methods capable of detecting the protein in food samples at levels as low as possible. Current analytical approaches rely on the use of antibodies as selective recognition elements. With limited sensitivity, these methods exhibit some deficiencies that compromise the accuracy of the obtained results. Aptamers provide an ideal alternative for designing biosensors for fast and selective measurement of gluten in foods. This article highlights the challenges in gluten detection, the current status of the use of aptamers for solving this problem, and what remains to be done to move these systems into commercial applications.

Keywords: aptamers; biosensors; celiac disease; gliadin; gluten; prolamins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aptamers, Peptide* / chemistry
  • Biosensing Techniques*
  • Celiac Disease
  • Diet, Gluten-Free
  • Food Safety
  • Glutens* / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Protein Binding
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Aptamers, Peptide
  • Glutens