Do gluten peptides stimulate weight gain in humans?

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Brouns, F. and Shewry, P. R. 2022. Do gluten peptides stimulate weight gain in humans? Nutrition Bulletin. 47 (2), pp. 186-198.

AuthorsBrouns, F. and Shewry, P. R.

Observations from animal and in vitro laboratory research, and anecdotal evidence, have led to the suggestion that gluten consumption stimulates weight gain by the presence of peptides expressing opioid activity. Another proposed mechanism is that gluten peptides decrease resting energy expenditure resulting in a positive energy balance. In order to induce such effects in vivo, intact food peptides must be absorbed in sufficient quantities, remain intact in the blood for sufficient time to have long-lasting biological activity and bind to receptors involved in appetite, satiety and energy regulation. However, although peptides from food may pass from the intestine into the blood in extremely low quantities, they are generally rapidly degraded by plasma and vasculum-bound aminopeptidases, resulting in very short half-lives and loss of bioactivity. At present, gluten peptide sequences that influence regulators of energy metabolism have not been identified. Furthermore, data on the quantitative absorption of gluten peptides in the blood stream, their stability and lasting bioactivity are also lacking. Therefore, there is no evidence for proposed effects on driving appetite by the brain, nor on energy expenditure and weight gain. Furthermore, the level of overweight observed in various countries appears to be independent of the level of wheat consumption, and abundant observational evidence in humans shows that the levels of gluten consumption are neither related to daily calorie intake nor to BMI. This narrative review therefore discusses the proposed effects of gluten on bodyweight (BW) and putative biological mechanisms in the light of the current evidence.

KeywordsBioactive peptides; Exorphins; Gluten; Weight gain
Year of Publication2022
JournalNutrition Bulletin
Journal citation47 (2), pp. 186-198
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeDFW - Designing Future Wheat - Work package 2 (WP2) - Added value and resilience
Publisher's version
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online30 May 2022
Publication process dates
Accepted19 Apr 2022

Permalink -

135 total views
220 total downloads
8 views this month
7 downloads this month
Download files as zip