To determine the prevalence of wheat sensitivity in a randomly selected Australian population, a study was carried out on sera samples of the Geelong Osteoporosis Study (GOS) age-stratified cohorts of men and women who were randomly selected from electoral rolls for the Barwon Statistical Division (n = 1145). The human sera were analysed by ELISA-based method using the ImmunoCAP 100 instrument (Phadia, Sweden). IgE from human sera were bound to the wheat (f4) and milk (f2) allergens that have been previously coated on the ImmunoCAPs. The number of IgE wheat and milk RAST positive individuals was determined. In order to relate the increased IgE immuno-reactivity to allergen symptoms, a questionnaire was established and sent to the blood donors and 974 individuals responded. Of these (n = 974) 147 individuals (15.1%) reported symptoms caused by wheat consumption, 179 (15.6%) and 112 (9.8%) sera showed RAST positive results (IgE > 60 response units) in wheat and milk RAST tests, respectively. However, only 2.5% of those participants with symptoms related to wheat had positive IgE values indicating that the relationship is complex: a large proportion (12.7%) of the investigated population might suffer from other wheat related disorders (i.e. not IgE mediated), such as celiac disease, non-celiac reaction to gluten, reaction to fructans for those with irritable bowel syndrome as well as other factors. For the 13.2% who showed raised IgE antibody levels without symptoms we postulate that these individuals have latent wheat sensitivity with the potential of developing symptoms sooner or later.
A comparative study to investigate the immune reactivity of human IgE against wheat and spelt antigens was carried out using the sera of 73 patients found to be RAST positive for wheat. Of these 63% (n = 50) showed a higher IgE immune reactivity against wheat, while 30% (n = 24) showed higher IgE response against spelt antigens, the remaining 7% have indifferent responses against both antigens. Since the provided Phadia wheat and spelt antigens used in this study originated from Europe, Australian wheat and spelt varieties were also used to prepare antigens in order to investigate the response of Australian sera to local wheats. It was found that the immune reactivity of IgE wheat positive sera from a normal Australian population is lower for spelts compared to wheats regardless of their origin but much lower against an Australian spelt containing a mutation in its expansin gene. Aclinical feeding trial would be necessary to confirm if this difference in immune reactivity between spelt and wheat is consistent with a difference in allergenicity.
Akagawa, M., Handoyo, T., Ishii, T., Kumazawa, S., Morita, N., Suyamam, K. 2007. Proteomic analysis of wheat flour allergens. J. Agric. Food Chem. 55:6863–6870.
Amano, M., Ogawa, H., Kojima, K., Kamidaira, T., Suetsugu, S., Yoshihama, M., Satoh, T., Samejima, T., Matsumoto, I. 1998. Identification of the major allergens in wheat flour responsible for baker’s asthma. Biochem. J. 330:1229–1234.
Anderson, R.P., Degano, P., Godkin, A.J., Jewell, D.P., Hill, A.V.S. 2000. In vivo antigen challenge in celiac disease identifies a single transglutaminase-modified peptide as the dominant A gliadin T-cell epitope. Nature (Med) 6:337–342.
Anderson, R.P., Wieser, H. 2006. Medical applications of gluten-composition knowledge. In: Wrigley, C.W., Békés, F., Bushuk, W. (eds), Gliadin and Glutenin. The Unique Balance of Wheat Quality. AACCI Press, St. Paul, MN, USA, pp. 387–409.
Armentia, A., Martin-Santos, J.M., Blanco, M. 1990. Exercise induced anaphylaxis reaction to grain flours. Ann. Allergy 65:149–151.
Armentia, A., Martín, S., Diaz-Perales, A., Palacín, A., Tordesillas, L., Herrero, M., Martín-Armentia, M. 2012. A possible hypoallergenic cereal in wheat food allergy and baker’s asthma. Am. J. Plant Sci. 3:1779–1781.
Braly, J., Hogganm, R. 2002. Dangerous Grains. Why Gluten Cereal Grains May Be Hazardous to your Health. Penguin Group, New York, NY, USA.
Breen, M., Li, D., Dunn, D.S., Békés, F., Kong, X., Zhang, J., Jia, J., Wicker, T., Mago, R. Ma, W., Bellgard, M., Appels, R. 2010. Wheat beta-expansion (EXPB11) genes: Identification of the expressed gene on chromosome 3BS carrying a pollen allergen domain. BMC Plant Biology 10:99.
Catassi, C., Fasano, A. 2008. Celiac disease. In: Arendt, E.K., Dal Bello, F. (eds), Gluten-free Cereal Products and Beverages. Academic Press, San Diego, CA, USA, pp. 1–28.
Corazza, G.R., Gasbarrini, G. 1995. Coeliac disease in adults. Baillières Clin. Gastroenterol. 9:329–350.
Davis, W. 2011. Wheat belly: Loose the Wheat and Find your Path back to Health. Rodale Books Inc., New York, USA.
Erwin, E.A., Ronmark, E., Satinover, S.M., Perzanowski, M.S., Crane, J. 2005. Quantitative measurement of IgE antibodies to purified allergens using streptavidin linked to a high capacity solid phase. J. Allergy Cli. Immunol. 115:1029–1035.
Ford, R. 2008. The Gluten Syndrome. Is Wheat Causing you Harm? RRS Global LT, Christchurch, New Zealand.
Greco, L., Mäki, M., Di Donato, F., Visakorpi, J.K. 1992. Epidemiology of coeliac disease in Europe and the Mediterranean Area. A summary report on the multicentre study by the European Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. In: Auricchio, S., Visakorpi, J.K. (eds), Common Food Intolerances 1: Epidemiology of Coeliac Disease. Dyn. Nutr. Res. Basel. Karger. Basel, Switzerland, pp. 25–44.
Green, P.H.R., Cellier, M.D.B. 2007. Celiac disease. New England J. Med. 357:1731–1743.
Hischenhuber, C., Crevel, R., Jarry, B., Mäki, M., Moneret Vautrin, D.A., Romano, A., Troncone, R., Ward, R. 2006. Review article: safe amounts of gluten for patients with wheat allergy or coeliac disease. Aliment. Pharmacol. Therapy J. 23:559–575.
Islam, S., Ma, W., Yan, G., Békés, F., Appels, R. 2011. Modifying processing and health attributes of wheat bread through changes in composition, genetics and breeding. In: Cauvain, S.P. (ed.), Bread Making. Improving Quality. 2nd Edition. Woodhead Publishing Ltd. Cambridge, UK, pp. 259–296.
Johansson, G.S.O. 2004. ImmunoCAP specific immunoglobulin E test: Tool for research and allergy diagnosis. Expert. Rev. Mol. Diag. 4:89–95.
Juhász, A., Gell, Gy., Békés, F., Balázs, E. 2012. The epitopes in wheat proteins for defining toxic units relevant to human health. Funct. Integr. Genomics 12:585–598.
Laurière, M., Pecquet, C., Bouchez-Mahiout, I., Snegaroff, J., Bayrou, O., Raison-Peyron, N., Vigan, M. 2006. Hydrolyzed wheat proteins present in cosmetics can induce immediate hypersensitivities. Contact Dermatitis 54:283–289.
Mills, E.N.C., Jenkins, J.A., Alcocer, M.J.C., Shewry, P.R. 2004. Structural, biological, and evolutionary relationships of plant food allergens sensitizing via the gastrointestinal tract. Crit. Rev. Food Sci. Nutr. 44:379–407.
Ortolani, C., Pastorello, E.A. 2006. Food allergies and food intolerances. Best Practice and Res. Clin. Gastro. 20:467–483.
Pasco, J.A., Nicholson, G.C., Kotowicz, M.A. 2012. Cohort Profile: Geelong Osteoporosis Study. Int. J. Epidemiol. 41:1565–1575.
Rona, R.J., Keil, T., Summers, C., Gislason, D., Zuidmeer, L., Sodergren, E., Sigurdardottir, S.T, Lindner, T. Goldhahn, K., Dahlstrom, J., McBride, D., Madsen, C. 2007. The prevalence of food allergy: Ameta-analysis. J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. 120: 638–646.
Sapone, A., Bai, J.C., Ciacci, C., Dolinsek, J., Green, P.H.R., Hadjivassiliou, M., Kaukinen, K., Rostami, K., Sanders, D.S., Schumann, M., Ullrich, R., Villaltam, D., Voltam, U., Catassi, C., Fasano, A. 2012. Spectrum of gluten-related disorders: consensus on new nomenclature and classification. BMC Medicine 10:13.
Scholz, E., Ganzler, K., Gergely, S., Salgó, A. 2000. Separation of the unique proteins of wheat protein fractions by capillary electrophoresis. Chromatographia 51:S130–S134.
Siles, R.I., Hsieh, F.H. 2013. Allergy blood testing: A practical guide for clinicians. Cleveland Clinic J. Med. 78:585–592.
Sollid, L.M., Qiao, S.W., Andersonm, R.P., Gianfrani, C., Koning, F. 2012. Nomenclature and listing of celiac disease relevant gluten T-cell epitopes restricted by HLA-DQ molecules. Immunogenetics 64:455–460.
Suter, D., Békés, F. 2012. Wheat immunoreactivity. Australian Patent https://doi.org/v3.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/biblio?CC=HU&NR=AU2011000468
Vu, N.T. 2014. Comparative analysis of the soluble wheat proteins and human health. PhD Thesis. Sydney University. Sydney, Australia.
Wangen, S. 2009. Healthier without Wheat: A New Understanding of Wheat Allergies, Celiac Disease and Non-celiac Gluten Intolerance. Innate Health Publ. Seattle, WA, USA.
Zuidmeer, L., Goldhahn, K., Rona, R.J., Gislason, D., Madsen, C., Summers, C., Sodergren, E., Dahlstrom, J., Lindner, T., Sigurdardottir, S.T., McBride, D., Keil, T. 2008. The prevalence of plant food allergies: A systematic review. J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. 121:1210–1218.
About this article
Cite this article
Vu, N.T., Chin, J., Pasco, J.A. et al. The Prevalence of Wheat and Spelt Sensitivity in a Randomly Selected Australian Population. CEREAL RESEARCH COMMUNICATIONS 43, 97–107 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1556/CRC.2014.0026
- wheat related health disorders
- prevalence of wheat sensitivity
- IgE RAST test