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Methods. 2004 Mar;32(3):292-9.

Improving diagnostic tests for food allergy with recombinant allergens.

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  • 1Department of Pathophysiology, Division of Immunopathology, University of Vienna, General Hospital Vienna, Waehringer Guertel 18-20, A-1090 Vienna, Austria.


Food allergy is one important manifestation of atopic allergy. Primary food allergy mainly affects young children (class I), whereas adults frequently develop food allergy as a consequence of an inhalant sensitization (class II). At present, the diagnostic instrument for proving class II food allergy is not satisfactory. Skin tests as well as serological tests are in general neither very specific nor highly sensitive because they depend on food extracts, which differ in their content of individual allergens, vary between manufacturers, and even between different batches. Since the presence of food allergen-specific IgE antibodies does not always correlate with clinical symptoms against the respective food, oral provocation tests (ideally double-blind placebo-controlled food challenges) have to be performed to validate serological diagnosis or skin tests. However, oral provocation tests are connected to several practical problems and include a specific risk for the allergic patient. Applying DNA technology, up to 40 food allergens have been produced in recombinant form, which implies standardized quality and unlimited quantity of the respective proteins. Hence, such molecules might be used to solve problems of clinical and molecular allergology in diagnosis, research, and therapy of class II food allergies. First experiments with recombinant food allergens in this respect appear very promising.

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