IgE-mediated allergy to corn: a 50 kDa protein, belonging to the Reduced Soluble Proteins, is a major allergen.Allergy 2002; 57(2):98-106A
Although corn is often cited as an allergenic food, very few studies have been devoted to the identification of corn allergens and corn allergy has been rarely confirmed by double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenge (DBPCFC). Recently, Pastorello et al. (1) identified some salt-soluble IgE-binding proteins of corn flour as potential allergens. One of these, corresponding to corn Lipid Transfer Protein (LTP), appeared to be the major one. The aim of this study was to verify the clinical significance of the skin prick test (SPT) and CAP-FEIA CAP-System IgE fluozoenzyme immunosorbent assay (Pharmacia Diagnostic, Uppsala, Sweden) positivities to corn and to identify the presence of IgE-binding proteins in the corn flour salt-insoluble protein fractions (comprising up to 96% of the total protein) using sera of patients with DBPCFC-documented food allergy to corn. In addition the effect of cooking and proteolytic digestion on the corn allergens was investigated.
Sixteen subjects with SPT and CAP-FEIA positivities to corn flour were examined. Only six of them complained of suffering from urticaria and/or other symptoms after ingestion of corn-based foods. The patients were food challenged with cooked corn flour (polenta). IgE-binding proteins were detected by immunoblotting. The digestibility of the IgE-binding proteins was examined during a pepsin attack followed by a pancreatin digestion performed on a cooked corn flour sample.
Oral challenge was positive only for six patients with symptoms after ingestion of corn. A 50 kDa protein, belonging to the corn Reduced Soluble Protein (RSP) fraction was recognized by the serum IgE of all the DBPCFC-positive subjects and resulted to be resistant to both heating and peptic/pancreatic digestion. SPT with the purified RSP fraction gave positive results for all of the DBPCFC-positive patients examined.
SPT and CAP-FEIA positivities to corn flour had no clinical significance for most of the patients and food allergy to corn has to be proved by DBPCFC. A salt-unextractable protein of 50 kDa, belonging to the RSP fraction, represents a potential allergen in food hypersensitivity to corn because of its stability to cooking and digestion.