Gluten exorphin

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Gluten exorphins are a group of opioid peptides formed during the digestion of the gluten protein. These peptides work as external regulators for gastrointestinal movement and hormonal release.[1] The breakdown of gliadin, a polymer of wheat proteins, creates amino acids that stop the gluten epitopes from entering the immune system to activate inflammatory reactions. During this process, gluten does not fully break down, thus increasing the presence of gluten exorphins.[2] Because of this, researchers think this is what might lead to various diseases.

Research shows the benefits of gluten- and casein-free diets for people with diseases and disorders connected to gluten exorphins. The mechanism behind this is still unknown.[3] There is a possibility that gluten has deleterious effects on the human digestive system. When people are more susceptible to gluten and casein allergies, the weakened intestinal lining allows gluten exorphin to flow.[2]


There are four known gluten exorphins with known structure:

Gluten exorphin A5[edit]

  • Structure: H-Gly-Tyr-Tyr-Pro-Thr-OH[citation needed]
  • Chemical formula: C24H37N5O9
  • Molecular weight: 599.64 g/mol

Gluten exorphin B4[edit]

  • Structure: H-Tyr-Gly-Gly-Trp-OH[citation needed]
  • Chemical formula: C24H27N5O6
  • Molecular weight: 481.50 g/mol

Gluten exorphin B5[edit]

  • Structure: H-Tyr-Gly-Gly-Trp-Leu-OH[citation needed]
  • Chemical formula: C30H38N6O7
  • Molecular weight: 594.66 g/mol

Gluten exorphin C[edit]

  • Structure: H-Tyr-Pro-Ile-Ser-Leu-OH[citation needed]
  • Chemical formula: C29H45N5O8
  • Molecular weight: 591.70 g/mol

Clinical significance[edit]

Recent research surrounding gluten exorphins has revolved around how the peptides might play a role in various diseases and disorders.

Celiac disease[edit]

In response to gluten, people with celiac disease will release gluten exorphins as part of the allergic immune response. Due to the weakening of intestinal walls caused by celiac disease, some of these gluten exorphins can make their way through the lining of the intestines and are then absorbed into the bloodstream.[4]


  1. ^ Morley JE, Levine AS, Yamada T, Gebhard RL, Prigge WF, Shafer RB, et al. (June 1983). "Effect of exorphins on gastrointestinal function, hormonal release, and appetite". Gastroenterology. 84 (6): 1517–23. doi:10.1016/0016-5085(83)90374-8. PMID 6840480.
  2. ^ a b Pruimboom L, de Punder K (November 2015). "The opioid effects of gluten exorphins: asymptomatic celiac disease". Journal of Health, Population, and Nutrition. 33 (1): 24. doi:10.1186/s41043-015-0032-y. PMC 5025969. PMID 26825414.
  3. ^ Trivedi MS, Shah JS, Al-Mughairy S, Hodgson NW, Simms B, Trooskens GA, et al. (October 2014). "Food-derived opioid peptides inhibit cysteine uptake with redox and epigenetic consequences". The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. 25 (10): 1011–8. doi:10.1016/j.jnutbio.2014.05.004. PMC 4157943. PMID 25018147.
  4. ^ Whiteley P, Shattock P, Knivsberg AM, Seim A, Reichelt KL, Todd L, et al. (2013). "Gluten- and casein-free dietary intervention for autism spectrum conditions". Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 6: 344. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2012.00344. PMC 3540005. PMID 23316152.