Lipid transfer protein (LTP), the major allergen in Rosaceae in geographic areas where the prevalence of birch pollen allergy is low, is a widely cross-reacting pan-allergen, but the pattern of cross-reactivity to plant-derived foods botanically unrelated to Rosaceae shows much variability.
To examine the relationship between peach LTP specific IgE levels and cross-reactivity to several non-Rosaceae, plant-derived foods.
IgE specific for peach LTP was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in serum samples from 40 patients with Rosaceae allergy monosensitized to LTP. Patients were considered monosensitized to this protein in the absence of sensitization to other cross-reacting, plant-derived foods as shown by negative skin prick test (SPT) results with both birch and mugwort pollen. SPTs with commercial extracts of walnut, hazelnut, peanut, celery, maize, rice, tomato, orange, and onion were performed to detect possible immunologic cross-reactivity to these foods.
Patients with negative SPT results with non-Rosaceae foods showed significantly lower levels of IgE to peach LTP than patients showing skin reactivity to one or more non-Rosaceae foods (P < .001). A significant difference in specific IgE to peach LTP between patients with positive or negative SPT results was observed with each individual food (P < .001 in all cases). The level of IgE to peach LTP was strongly related to the number of positive SPT results with non-Rosaceae foods (r = 0.78; P < .001). Increasing levels of IgE to peach LTP were associated with skin reactivity to nuts (29/40 [72%]), peanut (27/40 [67%]), maize (16/39 [41%]), rice (14/39 [36%]), onion (13/37 [35%]), orange (9/32 [28%]), celery (11/40 [27%]), and tomato (8/39 [20%]).
This study suggests that all allergenic determinants in LTP from vegetable foods other than peach cross-react with peach LTP determinants, whereas only some peach LTP epitopes cross-react with allergenic determinants on botanically unrelated, plant-derived foods. The high levels of IgE to peach LTP seem to reflect the presence of IgE targeting common allergenic determinants of LTP, causing cross-reactivity to botanically unrelated, vegetable foods. In LTP-allergic patients, increasing levels of IgE to peach LTP are paralleled by an increasing number of foods other than Rosaceae positive on SPT that cause clinical symptoms.