The use of peripheral blood mononuclear cells in celiac disease diagnosis and treatment

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Introduction: Celiac disease is characterized by an abnormal immune activation driven by the ingestion of gluten from wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten-specific CD4+ T cells play an important role in disease pathogenesis and are detectable among peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Areas covered: This review summarizes the use of celiac disease patient PBMCs in clinical applications focusing on their exploitation in the development of diagnostic approaches and novel drugs to replace or complement gluten-free diet. Expert opinion: The most used PBMC-based methods applied in celiac disease research include ELISpot and HLA-DQ:gluten tetramer technology. ELISpot has been utilized particularly in research aiming to develop a celiac disease vaccine and in studies addressing the toxicity of different grains in celiac disease. HLA-DQ:gluten tetramer technology on the other hand initially focused on improving current diagnostics but in combination with additional markers it is also a useful outcome measure in clinical trials to monitor the efficacy of drug candidates. In addition, the technology serves well in the more detailed characterization of celiac disease-specific T cells, thereby possibly revealing novel therapeutic targets. Future studies may also reveal clinical applications for PBMC microRNAs and/or dendritic cells or monocytes present among PBMCs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-316
Number of pages12
Issue number3
Early online date26 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021
Publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology
  • Celiac Disease/blood
  • Diet, Gluten-Free
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunospot Assay
  • Glutens/immunology
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear/immunology

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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