Plant Foods for Human Nutrition

, Volume 67, Issue 1, pp 24–30 | Cite as

Maize Prolamins Resistant to Peptic-tryptic Digestion Maintain Immune-recognition by IgA from Some Celiac Disease Patients

  • Francisco Cabrera-Chávez
  • Stefania Iametti
  • Matteo Miriani
  • Ana M. Calderón de la Barca
  • Gianfranco Mamone
  • Francesco Bonomi
Original Paper


Maize is used as an alternative to wheat to elaborate foodstuffs for celiac patients in a gluten-free diet. However, some maize prolamins (zeins) contain amino acid sequences that resemble the wheat gluten immunodominant peptides and their integrity after gastrointestinal proteolysis is unknown. In this study, the celiac IgA-immunoreactivity to zeins from raw or nixtamalized grains, before and after peptic/tryptic digestion was evaluated and their possible immunogenicity was investigated by in silico methods. IgA from some celiac patients with HLA-DQ2 or DQ8 haplotypes recognized two alpha-zeins even after peptic/tryptic proteolysis. However, digestion affected zeins after denaturation, reduction, and alkylation, used for identification of prolamins as alpha-zein A20 and A30 by MS/MS sequencing. An in silico analysis indicated that other zeins contain similar sequences, or sequences that may bind even better to the HLA-DQ2/DQ8 molecules compared to the already identified ones. Results concur to indicate that relative abundance of these zeins, along with factors affecting their resistance to proteolysis, may be of paramount clinical relevance, and the use of maize in the formulation and preparation of gluten-free foods must be reevaluated in some cases of celiac disease.


Celiac disease IgA-reactivity Zeins 



Celiac disease


Human leukocyte antigen


Horse radish peroxidase



Authors are grateful to CONACyT (Mexican Council for Science and Technology) for providing a postdoctoral fellowship and for the partial financial support through the grant CB-2008/106227. The authors acknowledge the cordial support by N Sotelo-Cruz M.D. and M Ruiz-Dyck.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francisco Cabrera-Chávez
    • 1
  • Stefania Iametti
    • 1
  • Matteo Miriani
    • 1
  • Ana M. Calderón de la Barca
    • 2
    • 4
  • Gianfranco Mamone
    • 3
  • Francesco Bonomi
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze Molecolari AgroalimentariUniversità degli Studi di MilanoMilanoItaly
  2. 2.Coordinación de Nutrición, Centro de Investigación en Alimentación y DesarrolloHermosilloMéxico
  3. 3.Istituto di Scienze dell’Alimentazione, CNRAvellinoItaly
  4. 4.Centro de Investigación en Alimentación y DesarrolloHermosilloMéxico

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