Characterisation of clinical and immune reactivity to barley and rye ingestion in children with coeliac disease

Melinda Y. Hardy, Amy K. Russell, Catherine Pizzey, Claerwen M. Jones, Katherine A. Watson, Nicole L. La Gruta, Donald J. Cameron, Jason A. Tye-Din

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Objective Barley and rye are major components of the Western diet, and historic feeding studies indicate that they cause clinical effects in patients with coeliac disease (CD). This toxicity has been attributed to sequence homology with immunogenic wheat sequences, but in adults with CD, these cereals stimulate unique T cells, indicating a critical contribution to gluten immunity independent of wheat. Clinical and immune feeding studies with these grains in children with CD are sparse. We undertook a barley and rye feeding study to characterise the clinical and T-cell responses in children with CD. Design 42 children with human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-DQ2.5 + (aged 3-17 years) consumed barley or rye for 3 days. Blood-derived gluten-specific T cells were tested for reactivity against a panel of barley (hordein) and rye (secalin) peptides. Hordein and secalin-specific T-cell clones were generated and tested for grain cross-reactivity. T-cell receptor sequencing was performed on sorted single cells. T-cell responses were compared with those observed in adults with CD. Results 90% of the children experienced adverse symptoms, mostly GI, and 61% had detectable gluten-specific T-cell responses targeting peptides homologous to those immunogenic in adults. Deamidation was important for peptide reactivity. Homozygosity for HLA-DQ2.5 predicted a stronger T-cell response. Gluten-specific T cells showed striking similarities in their cross-reactivity between children and adults. Conclusions Barley and rye induce a consistent range of clinical and T-cell responses in children with CD. The findings highlight the importance of a series of dominant hordein and secalin peptides pathogenic in children with CD, some independent of wheat, which closely correspond to those seen in adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)830-840
Number of pages11
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • autoimmunity
  • CD4 + T cell
  • food intolerance mechanisms
  • gluten
  • paediatric

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