Corn – Is Not "Gluten Free", although many claim it is

Celiac Patients React to “Gluten Free” Bread

A recent study found that patients with celiac disease can react to “gluten free” bread made with maize (corn) protein.  Serum IgA was measured against the prolamine in corn. Previous studies have found similar reactions with corn in patients with gluten sensitivity.

J. Agric. Food Chem, 2008, 56 (4), pp 1387–1391.J. Agric. Food Chem, 2008, 56 (4), pp 1387–1391.

Gluten Free Society recommends the avoidance of corn.  Typically, people with celiac disease are instructed that corn is a safe food to consume.  They are told that is is “gluten free”.  The reality is – corn contains gluten.  The gluten in corn has not been studied as aggressively as the gluten in wheat and other common grains associated with gluten intolerance.  Several recent studies have shown that people with gluten sensitivity react to the gluten in corn.

Remember that most studies focus on antibody production as the outcome for a reaction.  Because many celiac patients have IgA deficiency, the test often yield false negative results.  The above study used IgA as an outcome measure and (fortunately) found that celiacs react to corn gluten.

The immune system is complex.  IgA, IgG, IgM, IgD, and IgE antibodies are only a small part of immune system reactions.  Immune cells create a myriad of different inflammatory molecules in response to the environment.  Leukotrienes, prostaglandins, eicosanoids, histamines, cytokines, serotonin, etc.  Most lab tests focus only on antibody production.  This is a major part of the problem in accurately diagnosing food reactions.