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BACKGROUND: Coeliac disease (CD) is due to an inappropriate T cell mediated response to specific gluten peptides. Measured by interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) ELISPOT, about half of the gliadin specific T cells induced with in vivo wheat gluten exposure in HLA-DQ2+ CD are specific for an alpha/beta-gliadin peptide (p57-73 QE65; QLQPFPQPELPYPQPQS) that includes two overlapping T cell epitopes (PFPQPELPY and PQPELPYPQ). AIM: To define minimally substituted variants of p57-73 QE65 universally devoid of IFN-gamma stimulatory capacity but capable of antagonising IFN-gamma secretion from polyclonal T cells specific for p57-73 QE65. METHODS: Peripheral blood mononuclear cells collected from 75 HLA-DQ2+ CD patients after in vivo gluten challenge were used in overnight ELISPOT assays to screen 218 single or double substituted variants of p57-73 QE65 for cytokine stimulatory and antagonist activity. RESULTS: The region p60-71 (PFPQPELPYPQP) and especially p64-67 (PELP) was sensitive to substitution. Twelve substitutions in p64-67 stimulated no IFN-gamma ELISPOT response. Among 131 partial agonists identified, 45 produced statistically significant inhibition of IFN-gamma ELISPOT responses when cocultured in fivefold excess with p57-73 QE65 (n = 10). Four substituted variants of p57-73 QE65 were inactive by IFN-gamma ELISPOT but consistently antagonised IFN-gamma ELISPOT responses to p57-73 QE65, and also retained interleukin 10 stimulatory capacity similar to p57-73 QE65. CONCLUSIONS: Altered peptide ligands of p57-73 QE65, identified using polyclonal T cells from multiple HLA-DQ2+ CD donors, have properties in vitro that suggest that a single substitution to certain alpha/beta-gliadins could abolish their capacity to stimulate IFN-gamma from CD4 T cells and also have anti-inflammatory or protective effects in HLA-DQ2+ CD.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





485 - 491


Adult, Aged, Amino Acids, Celiac Disease, Cells, Cultured, Cytokines, Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay, Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte, Female, Gliadin, Humans, Interferon-gamma, Leukocytes, Mononuclear, Male, Middle Aged, Peptide Fragments, T-Lymphocytes, Triticum