Oats represent a promising alternative to small-grain cereals from Triticeae group (wheat, barley, rye) for persons suffering from any form of gluten intolerance, especially celiac disease (CD), since oat-specific prolamins avenins reveal generally lower gluten content and immunoreactivity. Recent studies on avenin molecular structure revealed large genetic variability in avenin sequences affecting the spectrum of gluten peptides produced by hydrolases in human digestive tract. The aim of the present review is to summarise recent knowledge obtained in laboratory studies focused on the effect of avenin-derived peptides on reactivity of crucial components of human immune system such as dendritic cells (DC) and T-cells. The other part of the review summarises the results of clinical studies with CD patients including oat products in their diet. Since different clinical studies revealed contradictory results regarding potential safety of oats for CD patients, the focus has to be directed at genetic variability in oat avenins. Identification of avenin isoforms with minimum CD immunoreactivity will open up ways leading to designing novel oat cultivars suitable for CD patients. Knowledge on immunoreactivity of gluten peptides together with breeding new oat cultivars revealing minimum avenin immunoreactivity with respect to CD as well as application of food processing technologies leading to gluten content reduction should result in development of gluten-free oats safe for celiacs.
Keywords: Avenins; Celiac disease; Clinical studies; Genetic variability; Immunoreactivity; Oats (Avena sativa).