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ABC's Of Allergies
(Released August 2006)

  by Sujata Suri  


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Beware of the Common Allergens


Pollen is one of the major causes of allergies. Some of the most common allergy-inducing pollens are from birch, olive, oak, maple, plantago, rye grass, and ragweed. Major pollen allergens constitute expansins, profilins and calcium-binding proteins. Food plants such as cooked potatoes, apples, beans, tomatoes, onions, cabbage, soy, peanuts, and the wheat proteins omega-5 gliadin and glutein can also cause allergies. A lot of work is going on to identify the various allergens. For example, it's been found that tomatoes have four enzymes, which act as allergens: polygalacturonase, b-fructofuranosidase, superoxide dismutase and pectin esterase (Kondo et al. 2001). The quantity of these allergens increases as the fruit matures. So in persons allergic to tomatoes, the more ripened tomatoes he will eat, the greater the chances of developing allergy symptoms.

Plant pollens are common allergens

Latex is also a strong trigger for allergic disease, and in patients with spina bifida the chances of a Type 1 hypersensitivity reaction to Hevea brasilienses latex are greatly increased. The major allergen in natural rubber latex are the IgE- binding epitopes known as hevein (Hev b1,Hev b 6.02 and Hev3,) and prohevein (Hev b 6.01 ) (Alenius et al. 1996, Bohle et al. 2000, Drew et al. 2004).

Allergens can be of animal origin. Many people develop seafood related allergies. In most edible fish, parvalbumin has been identified as the major allergen. Fish like cod, salmon, pollack, herring, and wolffish contain the most potent allergens, whereas halibut, flounder, tuna and mackerel are the least allergenic (Thien van Do et al., 2005). Shellfish causes allergies in some people and the major allergen identified in shrimp is Pen m2. Nematodes Anisakis, parasitic to fish, cause allergic airway hyperreactivity and dermatitis in fish-processing workers exposed to them by air and contact. Allergies to pets have been reported in some people especially to fur. In cats, the allergen has been identified as Fel d 1, a protein found in cat saliva and dander.

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Special thanks to Deborah Whitman for her invaluable help with this Discovery Guide

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