Eva Helmerhorst, PhD
Associate Professor
Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine
Dept of Molecular & Cell Biology

PhD, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
MS, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam



Research by Helmerhorst and coworkers is focusing on the role of the microbiome of the upper gastro-intestinal tract, the oral cavity, in the digestion of dietary gluten. Dietary gluten comprise a family of proteins that are abundantly present in the Western diet. Gluten proteins are fairly difficult to digest because of their unusual amino acid content and -sequence. In genetically predisposed individuals, gluten proteins elicit an auto-immune response leading to the destruction of the villi of the small intestine thus interfering with efficient uptake of nutrients causing celiac disease. The predominant amino acids in the gluten sequences are proline (Pro) and glutamine (Gln). Our recent investigations indicate that human saliva contains unique enzymes that can cleave the peptide bond C-terminal to the Xaa-Pro-Gln sequence. This tripeptide is prevalent in T-cell stimulatory gluten domains. While the human digestive enzyme system apparently lacks the capacity to neutralize essential immunogenic gluten domains implicated in celiac disease, such activities are naturally present in the oral microbial proteasome. These novel findings offer clinical insights as well as therapeutic perspectives for the treatment of celiac disease.


Graduate Faculty (Primary Mentor of Grad Students)
Boston University School of Medicine, Division of Graduate Medical Sciences



2013 Salivary Research Group, IADR: Salivary Researcher of the Year
2012 United European Gastroenterology week: Best Oral Presentation in Session
2002 MRC Dunn Human Nutrition Unit: Collaboration with Dr. John Walker, Nobel laureate
2000 Interuniversitaire Onderzoeksschool Tandheelkunde (Netherlands): Bohn Stafleu Van Loghem-Thoden van Velzen Award
1998 Colgate-Palmolive, NY, NY: Colgate Research in Prevention Award


Oral microbial enzymes for the treatment of celiac disease
06/01/2016 - 05/31/2018 (PI)
NIH/National Institute of Allergy & Infe
4K02AI101067-04

Oral microbial enzymes for the treatment of celiac disease
06/15/2013 - 05/31/2016 (PI)
NIH/National Institute of Allergy & Infe
5K02AI101067-03

Gastro-Intestinal Microbes Degrading Dietary Gluten
06/01/2010 - 05/31/2016 (PI)
NIH/National Institute of Allergy & Infe
5R01AI087803-05

Oral Yeast Carriage and Salivary Antifungal Activity
02/05/2007 - 01/31/2010 (PI)
NIH/National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research
5 R03 DE16699 02




Yr Title Project-Sub Proj Pubs
2016 Oral microbial enzymes for the treatment of celiac disease 4K02AI101067-04 6
2014 Oral microbial enzymes for the treatment of celiac disease 5K02AI101067-02 6
2014 Gastro-intestinal microbes degrading dietary gluten 5R01AI087803-05 14
2013 Oral microbial enzymes for the treatment of celiac disease 1K02AI101067-01A1 6
2013 Gastro-intestinal microbes degrading dietary gluten 5R01AI087803-04 14
2012 Gastro-intestinal microbes degrading dietary gluten 5R01AI087803-03 14
2011 Gastro-intestinal microbes degrading dietary gluten 5R01AI087803-02 14
2010 Gastro-intestinal microbes degrading dietary gluten 1R01AI087803-01A1 14
2009 Oral Fluid Proteolytic Effects on Salivary Protein Structure and Function 5R21DE018132-02 13
2008 Oral Fluid Proteolytic Effects on Salivary Protein Structure and Function 1R21DE018132-01A1 13
Showing 10 of 12 results. Show All Results
Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.

  1. Tian N, Faller L, Leffler DA, Kelly CP, Hansen J, Bosch JA, Wei G, Paster BJ, Schuppan D, Helmerhorst EJ. Salivary Gluten Degradation and Oral Microbial Profiles in Healthy Individuals and Celiac Disease Patients. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2017 Mar 15; 83(6).View Related Profiles. PMID: 28087531; DOI: 10.1128/AEM.03330-16;.
  2. Alevizos I, Zheng C, Cotrim AP, Liu S, McCullagh L, Billings ME, Goldsmith CM, Tandon M, Helmerhorst EJ, Catalán MA, Danielides SJ, Perez P, Nikolov NP, Chiorini JA, Melvin JE, Oppenheim FG, Illei GG, Baum BJ. Late responses to adenoviral-mediated transfer of the aquaporin-1 gene for radiation-induced salivary hypofunction. Gene Ther. 2017 Mar; 24(3):176-186.View Related Profiles. PMID: 27996967; DOI: 10.1038/gt.2016.87;.
  3. Heller D, Helmerhorst EJ, Oppenheim FG. Saliva and Serum Protein Exchange at the Tooth Enamel Surface. J Dent Res. 2017 Apr; 96(4):437-443.View Related Profiles. PMID: 27879420; DOI: 10.1177/0022034516680771;.
  4. Wei G, Tian N, Siezen R, Schuppan D, Helmerhorst EJ. Identification of food-grade subtilisins as gluten-degrading enzymes to treat celiac disease. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2016 Sep 01; 311(3):G571-80.View Related Profiles. PMID: 27469368; DOI: 10.1152/ajpgi.00185.2016;.
  5. Heller D, Helmerhorst EJ, Gower AC, Siqueira WL, Paster BJ, Oppenheim FG. Microbial Diversity in the Early In Vivo-Formed Dental Biofilm. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2016 Jan 08; 82(6):1881-8.View Related Profiles. PMID: 26746720; PMCID: PMC4784052; DOI: 10.1128/AEM.03984-15;.
  6. Tian N, Leffler DA, Kelly CP, Hansen J, Marietta EV, Murray JA, Schuppan D, Helmerhorst EJ. Despite sequence homologies to gluten, salivary proline-rich proteins do not elicit immune responses central to the pathogenesis of celiac disease. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2015 Dec 1; 309(11):G910-7.View Related Profiles. PMID: 26505973; PMCID: PMC4669355; DOI: 10.1152/ajpgi.00157.2015;.
  7. Tian N, Messana I, Leffler DA, Kelly CP, Hansen J, Cabras T, D'Alessandro A, Schuppan D, Castagnola M, Helmerhorst EJ. Salivary proline-rich proteins and gluten: Do structural similarities suggest a role in celiac disease? Proteomics Clin Appl. 2015 Oct; 9(9-10):953-64.View Related Profiles. PMID: 25726832; PMCID: PMC4551613; DOI: 10.1002/prca.201400170;.
  8. Wei G, Tian N, Valery AC, Zhong Y, Schuppan D, Helmerhorst EJ. Identification of Pseudolysin (lasB) as an Aciduric Gluten-Degrading Enzyme with High Therapeutic Potential for Celiac Disease. Am J Gastroenterol. 2015 Jun; 110(6):899-908.View Related Profiles. PMID: 25895519; PMCID: PMC4461489; DOI: 10.1038/ajg.2015.97;.
  9. Tian N, Wei G, Schuppan D, Helmerhorst EJ. Effect of Rothia mucilaginosa enzymes on gliadin (gluten) structure, deamidation, and immunogenic epitopes relevant to celiac disease. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2014 Oct 15; 307(8):G769-76.View Related Profiles. PMID: 25147233; PMCID: PMC4200315; DOI: 10.1152/ajpgi.00144.2014;.
  10. Trindade F, Oppenheim FG, Helmerhorst EJ, Amado F, Gomes PS, Vitorino R. Uncovering the molecular networks in periodontitis. Proteomics Clin Appl. 2014 Oct; 8(9-10):748-61.View Related Profiles. PMID: 24828325; PMCID: PMC4426160; DOI: 10.1002/prca.201400028;.
Showing 10 of 69 results. Show More

This graph shows the total number of publications by year, by first, middle/unknown, or last author.

Bar chart showing 69 publications over 22 distinct years, with a maximum of 6 publications in 2001 and 2004 and 2007 and 2009 and 2010

YearPublications
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20171
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700 Albany St Ctr for Adv Biomed Res
Boston MA 02118
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