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Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2003 Jun;3(3):189-97.

Characterization of allergenic food proteins for improved diagnostic methods.

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  • 1Division of Pediatric Allergy & Immunology, The Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA.



Diagnostic decision points for food allergen-specific serum IgE concentration and for skin prick test results have been established for several foods, reducing the requirement for food challenges in a number of patients. Many patients, however, still need to undergo oral food challenges because their food-specific IgE level is in the undefined range. In addition, diagnostic decision points could not be established for several foods. It appears that measurement of serum specific IgE concentrations to individual allergens is superior to determination of specific IgE to the crude food extract containing allergenic and nonallergenic proteins. This review will outline recent advantages in characterization of food allergens as well as the relevance of this knowledge for use in recently developed protein microarray technology.


Protein microarrays have been developed to profile allergen-specific IgE antibodies from human serum with the advantage of screening hundreds of allergens in parallel using minute amounts of blood. This technology, however, requires prior knowledge of the proteins to be studied. The identification and characterization of clinically relevant allergens have increased dramatically within the last several years. Relevant new allergens have been identified, especially in tree nuts and seeds. Interestingly, most of these allergens belong to the same family of seed storage proteins. In addition, known food allergens have been further characterized and IgE-binding sites have been determined. Moreover, 'informative' peptides shown to be predictive for the persistence of food allergy have been identified.


The combination of food allergen characterization and protein or peptide microarray technology will enable us to develop improved diagnostic tools in food allergy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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