Allergy caused by ingestion of zucchini (Cucurbita pepo): characterization of allergens and cross-reactivity to pollen and other foods.J Allergy Clin Immunol 2000; 106(2):379-85JA
Allergy to zucchini (Cucurbita pepo), a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, has not previously been reported. We examined 4 patients complaining of allergic symptoms, such as oral allergy syndrome, nausea, diarrhea, or pruritus, after the intake of zucchini.
After the confirmation of food allergy, we wanted to characterize zucchini allergens and examine possible cross-reactions to pollen and food.
The patients underwent skin prick and prick-to-prick-testing with different allergens, including zucchini, latex, and birch, ragweed, and grass pollen. Moreover a double-blind, placebo-controlled, food challenge was performed to confirm food allergy. Total and specific serum IgE levels were determined by using CAP-FEIA and the enzyme allergosorbent test method (EAST), respectively. Proteins from zucchini reacting with patient IgE were detected by means of immunoblotting. To characterize cross-reacting IgE antibodies, immunoblot- and EAST-inhibition assays were carried out.
All patients in this study had positive reactions to zucchini both in prick-to-prick tests and double-blind, placebo-controlled, food challenges. Specific serum IgE levels to zucchini were found in all cases. In blot- and EAST-inhibition assays IgE from two patients revealed binding to zucchini profilin at about 15 kd. Furthermore, in two cases, including one of the profilin-positive patients, IgE directed against cross-reacting carbohydrate determinants was detected. For one patient, no cross-reacting IgE could be found, but IgE from this patient reacted strongly with a zucchini protein at 17 kd.
We report the first 4 cases of food allergy to zucchini. Zucchini allergens can cause systemic reactions and are at least partially heat stable. We suggest that allergy to zucchini can occur as a result of primary sensitization to zucchini, as well as to cross-reactions to the panallergen profilin and cross-reacting carbohydrate determinants.