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Perspective

Could Global Intensification of Nitrogen Fertilisation Increase Immunogenic Proteins and Favour the Spread of Coeliac Pathology?

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CSIC, Global Ecology Unit CREAF-CSIC-UAB, Bellaterra, 08193 Catalonia, Spain
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CREAF, Cerdanyola del Valles, 08193 Catalonia, Spain
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Global Change Research Institute, Czech Academy of Sciences, CZ-60300 Brno, Czech Republic
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Research Group Plants and Ecosystems (PLECO), Department of Biology, University of Antwerp, B-2610 Wilrijk, Belgium
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Laboratory of Climate and Environmental Sciences, Institute Pierre Simon Laplace (PSL), 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
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Ecosystems Services and Management, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
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Key Laboratory of Urban Environment and Health, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xiamen 361021, China
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State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Centre for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100085, China
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Foods 2020, 9(11), 1602; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods9111602
Received: 9 October 2020 / Revised: 30 October 2020 / Accepted: 2 November 2020 / Published: 4 November 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Food Nutrition)
Fertilisation of cereal crops with nitrogen (N) has increased in the last five decades. In particular, the fertilisation of wheat crops increased by nearly one order of magnitude from 1961 to 2010, from 9.84 to 93.8 kg N ha−1 y−1. We hypothesized that this intensification of N fertilisation would increase the content of allergenic proteins in wheat which could likely be associated with the increased pathology of coeliac disease in human populations. An increase in the per capita intake of gliadin proteins, the group of gluten proteins principally responsible for the development of coeliac disease, would be the responsible factor. We conducted a global meta-analysis of available reports that supported our hypothesis: wheat plants growing in soils receiving higher doses of N fertilizer have higher total gluten, total gliadin, α/β-gliadin, γ-gliadin and ω-gliadin contents and higher gliadin transcription in their grain. We thereafter calculated the per capita annual average intake of gliadins from wheat and derived foods and found that it increased from 1961 to 2010 from approximately 2.4 to 3.8 kg y−1 per capita (+1.4 ± 0.18 kg y−1 per capita, mean ± SE), i.e., increased by 58 ± 7.5%. Finally, we found that this increase was positively correlated with the increase in the rates of coeliac disease in all the available studies with temporal series of coeliac disease. The impacts and damage of over-fertilisation have been observed at an environmental scale (e.g., eutrophication and acid rain), but a potential direct effect of over-fertilisation is thus also possible on human health (coeliac disease). View Full-Text
Keywords: global intensification of N fertilisation; wheat; allergenic proteins; gluten proteins; coeliac pathology global intensification of N fertilisation; wheat; allergenic proteins; gluten proteins; coeliac pathology
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MDPI and ACS Style

Penuelas, J.; Gargallo-Garriga, A.; Janssens, I.A.; Ciais, P.; Obersteiner, M.; Klem, K.; Urban, O.; Zhu, Y.-G.; Sardans, J. Could Global Intensification of Nitrogen Fertilisation Increase Immunogenic Proteins and Favour the Spread of Coeliac Pathology? Foods 2020, 9, 1602. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods9111602

AMA Style

Penuelas J, Gargallo-Garriga A, Janssens IA, Ciais P, Obersteiner M, Klem K, Urban O, Zhu Y-G, Sardans J. Could Global Intensification of Nitrogen Fertilisation Increase Immunogenic Proteins and Favour the Spread of Coeliac Pathology? Foods. 2020; 9(11):1602. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods9111602

Chicago/Turabian Style

Penuelas, Josep, Albert Gargallo-Garriga, Ivan A. Janssens, Philippe Ciais, Michael Obersteiner, Karel Klem, Otmar Urban, Yong-Guan Zhu, and Jordi Sardans. 2020. "Could Global Intensification of Nitrogen Fertilisation Increase Immunogenic Proteins and Favour the Spread of Coeliac Pathology?" Foods 9, no. 11: 1602. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods9111602

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