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J Nutr. 2004 May;134(5):1213S-1219S.

Soy protein allergy: incidence and relative severity.

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Research and Development, Ross Products Division, Abbott Laboratories, Columbus, OH 43215, USA.


Food allergy is a relatively rare and sometimes violent reaction of the immune system to food proteins. The first report characterizing soy allergy appeared in 1934. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations includes soy in its list of the 8 most significant food allergens. At least 16 potential soy protein allergens have been identified but their relative clinical significance is unknown. Conversely, soy has a long history of successful use in managing cow's milk allergies in infants. To better predict the utility of soy proteins for controlling food allergy, it is important to understand the relative allergenic reactivity of soy compared with other major food proteins. This can be studied using clinical data, animal models, and biochemical approaches; all show diminished reactivity for soy. Clinical studies using in vitro methods and blinded food challenges have generated substantial information. Study populations include high-risk asymptomatic infants and patients with atopic symptoms, positive food challenges, and specific milk allergies. Generally, these studies show lower allergic reactivity for soy proteins vs. other food allergens. Comparisons of food allergen dose-response relationships for triggering allergic symptoms also demonstrate a higher protein concentration threshold for soy (approximately 100 times), indicating lower allergenic reactivity. Extensive investigations of soy immunological reactivity have also been carried out using animal models. Consistent with clinical results, all of these data show substantially diminished immunological reactivity for soy proteins. Biochemical and immunochemical analyses indicate no striking differences between soy and other food proteins that would explain these unexpected differences in allergenic reactivity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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