Real-World Gluten Exposure in Patients With Celiac Disease on Gluten-Free Diets, Determined From Gliadin Immunogenic Peptides in Urine and Fecal Samples

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2021 Mar;19(3):484-491.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2020.03.038. Epub 2020 Mar 23.


Background & aims: It is not clear how often patients who are on gluten-free diets (GFDs) for treatment of celiac disease still are exposed to gluten. We studied levels of gluten immunogenic peptides (GIP) in fecal and urine samples, collected over 4 weeks, from patients with celiac disease on a long-term GFD.

Methods: We performed a prospective study of 53 adults with celiac disease who had been on a GFD for more than 2 years (median duration, 8 y; interquartile range, 5-12 y) in Argentina. At baseline, symptoms were assessed by the celiac symptom index questionnaire. Patients collected stool each Friday and Saturday and urine samples each Sunday for 4 weeks. We used a commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay to measure GIP in stool and point-of-care tests to measure GIP in urine samples.

Results: Overall, 159 of 420 stool and urine samples (37.9%) were positive for GIP; 88.7% of patients had at least 1 fecal or urine sample that was positive for GIP (median, 3 excretions). On weekends (urine samples), 69.8% of patients excreted GIP at least once, compared with 62.3% during weekdays (stool). The number of patients with a sample that was positive for GIP increased over the 4-week study period (urine samples in week 1 vs week 4: P < .05). Patients with symptoms had more weeks in which GIP was detected in stool than patients without symptoms (P < .05). The number of samples that were positive for GIP correlated with titers of deamidated gliadin peptide IgA in patients' blood samples, but not with levels of tissue transglutaminase.

Conclusions: Patients with celiac disease on a long-term GFD still frequently are exposed to gluten. Assays to detect GIP in stool and urine might be used to assist dietitians in assessment of GFD compliance.

Keywords: Celiac Disease; Follow-up; GIP Excretion; Gluten-Free Diet Adherence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Celiac Disease*
  • Diet, Gluten-Free
  • Gliadin*
  • Glutens
  • Humans
  • Peptides
  • Prospective Studies


  • Peptides
  • Glutens
  • Gliadin