IntoductionK562(S) agglutination has been used as a rapid and economic tool for the in vitro screening of the toxicity of cereal fractions and prolamins in celiac disease (CD). A strict correlation has been reported between the toxicity of cereals and cereal fractions for celiac patients and their ability to agglutinate K562(S) cells. Whether this specificity of K562(S)-cell agglutination is caused by the activation of the same pathogenic events triggered by toxic cereal fractions in CD intestine or simply represents a bystander event of gluten toxicity is, however, unknown.MethodsK562(S) cells were incubated in vitro with the peptic-tryptic digest of wheat gliadin.ResultsThe agglutination of K562(S) cells by wheat gliadin peptides is orchestrated by a cascade of very early events occurring at the K562(S)-cell surface similar to those occurring at the intestinal epithelial surface. They involve a rapid increase in intracellular calcium levels that activate tissue transglutaminase (TG2), leading to a rapid actin reorganization that is pivotal in driving cell agglutination. These specific effects of toxic cereals are phenocopied by the gliadin-derived peptide p31-43, which orchestrates the activation of innate response to gliadin in CD.DiscussionOur study provides the rationale for the extensive use of K562(S)-cell agglutination as a valuable tool for screening cereal toxicity.