Celiac disease (CD) affects ~1 in 141 individuals in the United States, requiring adherence to a strict gluten-free diet. The Codex Standard and the European Commission states that gluten level of gluten-free foods must not exceed 20 ppm. The FDA requires food bearing the labeling claim "gluten-free" to contain <20 ppm gluten. Accurate quantitation of gluten in fermented-hydrolyzed foods by antibody-based methods is a challenge due to the lack of appropriate reference materials and variable proteolysis. The recent uses of proteases (e.g., proline endopeptidases or PEP) to hydrolyze immunopathogenic sequences of gluten proteins further complicates the quantitation of immunopathogenic gluten. The commercially available antibody-based methods routinely used to detect and quantitate gluten are not able to distinguish between different hydrolytic patterns arising from differences in fermentation processes. This is a severe limitation that makes accurate quantitation and, ultimately, a detailed evaluation of any potential health risk associated with consuming the food difficult. Utilizing gluten-specific antibodies, a recently developed multiplex-competitive ELISA along with western blot analysis provides a potential path forward in this direction. These complimentary antibody-based technologies provide insight into the extent of proteolysis resulting from various fermentation processes and have the potential to aid in the selection of appropriate hydrolytic calibration standards, leading to accurate gluten quantitation in fermented-hydrolyzed foods.
Keywords: competitive ELISA; fermentation; gluten; hydrolysis; peptides; quantitation.