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Study by MedUni Vienna defines protein group as allergy multiplier

(Vienna, 12th February 2011) In time, those suffering from a food allergy often find that they start to suffer from other allergies, sometimes with more serious implications. A team of researchers at MedUni Vienna has now been able to demonstrate a mechanism, which is of considerable importance to the treatment of such allergies.

At the centre of this research, which is part of the PhD programme entitled “Inflammation and Immunity” at MedUni Vienna, has been special food allergens known as “non-specific lipid transfer proteins” (nsLTP). These plant allergens can be found in a number of fruits and vegetables, as well as in grain varieties and some types of pollen.

Thanks to their compact structure, these allergens are not digested in the gastrointestinal tract. As a result, they trigger immunoreactions, which can produce severe allergic symptoms. The reactions range from minor skin irritations to fatal circulatory failure, otherwise known as anaphylactic shock. Therefore, it is just as important for the patients affected to know which functions the nsLTP family have as triggers for subsequent allergies as the cross-reactions themselves. Very little is known about this to date.

The new study produced by Barbara Bohle and her research team has been able to show in patients suffering from a peach and hazelnut allergy that both the cellular and antibody reactions are much more pronounced towards the peach than the hazelnut allergy. The results indicate that a sensitisation towards the peach allergy occurs first, before other allergies appear as a result of cross-reactions with nsLTP in other foodstuffs. By diagnosing nsLTP as an “allergy multiplier”, it will be possible to adapt and improve diagnostic procedures and treatments in the future.

The principle of the sensitising the main allergen within an allergen family has also been observed in food allergies associated with birch pollen. In such cases, patients are sensitised to the birch pollen allergen, Bet v 1, and develop allergic symptoms towards various fruits, vegetables and soya products as a result of cross-reactions with Bet v 1-related allergens.

Publication in „Allergy“:
Pru p 3, the non-specific lipid transfer protein from peach, dominates the immune response to its homolog in hazelnut.
Schulten V, Nagl B, Scala E, Bernadi ML, Mari A, Ciardiello MA, Lauer I, Scheurer S, Briza P, Jürets A, Ferreira F, Jahn-Schmid B, Fischer GF, Bohle B.
Allergy, accepted Feb, 2011

Researchers involved:
Univ. DI Barbara Bohle, Principle Investigator, Department of Pathophysiology and Allergy Research Veronique Schulten, Lead Author, Inflammation and Immunity PhD Programme

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