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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Microwave Treatments of Wheat Can Confuse R5-antibody ELISA Gluten Tests

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      Microwave treatments of wheat can trick R5-antibody ELISA tests to misread actual gluten content.


    Caption: Photo: CC--Marcin Wichary

    Celiac.com 02/17/2017 - In recent tests, researchers found that microwave treatment (MWT) of wet wheat kernels caused a striking reduction in R5-antibody-based ELISA gluten readings, reducing the readings to under 20 ppm, so that wheat could theoretically be labeled as gluten-free. However, the actual gluten content of the wheat remained unchanged. Just the test reading changed.

    The research team included C Gianfrani, G Mamone, B la Gatta, A Camarca, L Di Stasio, F Maurano, S Picascia, V Capozzi, G Perna, G Picariello, A Di Luccia. They are variously affiliated with the Institute of Protein Biochemistry, CNR, Naples, Italy, the Institute of Food Sciences, CNR Avellino, Italy, the Department of the Sciences of Agriculture, Food and Environment at the University of Foggia, Italy, the Institute of Food Sciences, CNR Avellino, Italy; Department of Agriculture, University of Naples, Portici (Na), Italy, the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Foggia, Foggia (Italy) and National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Section of Bari, Italy, and the Department of the Sciences of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Foggia, Italy.

    The failure of R5 Elisa to register gluten in MWT stands in stark contrast to analysis of gluten peptides by G12 antibody-based ELISA, mass spectrometry-based proteomics, and in vitro assay with T cells of celiac subjects, all three of which gave consistent results both before and after MWT.

    As to what caused the R5 Elisa to misread the MWT samples, an SDS-PAGE analysis and Raman spectroscopy showed that MWT reduced the alcohol solubility of gliadins, and altered the access of R5-antibody to the gluten epitopes. Thus, MWT neither destroys gluten nor modifies chemically the toxic epitopes, this contradicts claims that MWT of wheat kernels detoxifies gluten.

    This study provides evidence that R5-antibody ELISA alone is not effective to determine gluten levels in thermally treated wheat products.

    Gluten epitopes in processed wheat should be monitored using strategies based on combined immunoassays with T cells from celiacs, G12-antibody ELISA after proteolysis and proper molecular characterization.

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    Question 1: are companies that produce gluten free products using the R5 Elisa test alone to verify that their products are gluten free? Even in this country, there is no guarantee that some unscrupulous manufacturer would use bare minimum testing standards to produce a product for consumption while gaining maximum profit at our expense. Question 2: with cost cutting practices being used in all aspects of the health care industry, food/non-food industries, how do people know what tests are being used to verify the presence of celiac Disease (and other non-celiac diseases) when they truly do not know what's going on with their health? Even with information so readily available from so many sources, we, the patient and consumer, are vulnerable to exposure to gluten contamination which could have detrimental and devastating effects no matter how careful we are! With each visit to the emergency room because of gluten contamination, vigilance on my part becomes paramount to living the best way I know how. It would be nice to know that measures for testing were also paramount as well.

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    Important information to know! Would these microwave waves be the equivalent of at home microwaves or something more industrial? Separate issue: Has anyone else noticed issues with microwave food in general? (For example, there are times I make a safe meal at home and do not get sick, but if I microwave the same gluten free meal at work for lunch the next day, I get ill--similar to gluten, though a bit different. I know microwaves work fast by breaking the cell walls of food, but I'm not sure why I would feel ill due to that.)

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    Article: Microwave treatments of wheat can trick R5-antibody ELISA tests to misread actual gluten content. I was wondering what the government was going to do with the unsaleable wheat that is rotting in the silos. Celiac is a wide-ranging disease. Intake of gluten, yeast or yeast extract, egg, dairy, seed or flower oils results in dumping. Only cold pressed oils do not contain toxins. I told a co-worker; "If you want to know what foods and additives are toxic to the body, let me know, I'll ingest it and get right back to you!"

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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