Background: Sensitization to wheat by ingestion can lead to food allergy symptoms and wheat-dependent, exercise-induced anaphylaxis. Sensitization by inhalation causes bakers' asthma and rhinitis. Wheat allergens have been characterized at the molecular level in bakers' asthma and in wheat-dependent, exercise-induced anaphylaxis, in which omega-5 gliadin (Tri a 19) is a major allergen. However, little information is available regarding allergens responsible for hypersensitivity reactions to ingested wheat in children.
Objective: The aim of this study was to examine whether children with allergy to ingested wheat have IgE antibodies to omega-5 gliadin.
Methods: Sera were obtained from 40 children (mean age, 2.5 years; range, 0.7-8.2 years) with suspected wheat allergy who presented with atopic dermatitis and/or gastrointestinal and/or respiratory symptoms. Wheat allergy was diagnosed with open or double-blinded, placebo-controlled oral wheat challenge. Wheat omega-5 gliadin was purified by reversed-phase chromatography, and serum IgE antibodies to omega-5 gliadin were measured by means of ELISA. In vivo reactivity was studied by skin prick testing. Control sera were obtained from 22 children with no evidence of food allergies.
Results: In oral wheat challenge, 19 children (48%) reacted with immediate and 8 children (20%) with delayed hypersensitivity symptoms. Sixteen (84%) of the children with immediate symptoms had IgE antibodies to purified omega-5 gliadin in ELISA. In contrast, IgE antibodies to omega-5 gliadin were not detected in any of the children with delayed or negative challenge test results or in the control children. The diagnostic specificity and positive predictive value of omega-5 gliadin ELISA were each 100% for immediate challenge reactions. Skin prick testing with omega-5 gliadin was positive in 6 of 7 children with immediate challenge symptoms and negative in 2 children with delayed challenge symptoms.
Conclusion: The results of this study show that omega-5 gliadin is a significant allergen in young children with immediate allergic reactions to ingested wheat. IgE testing with omega-5 gliadin could be used to reduce the need for oral wheat challenges in children.