Allergic reactions to tree nuts can be serious and life threatening. Considerable research has been conducted in recent years in an attempt to characterize those allergens that are most responsible for allergy sensitization and triggering. Both native and recombinant nut allergens have been identified and characterized and, for some, the IgE-reactive epitopes described. Some allergens, such as lipid transfer proteins, profilins, and members of the Bet v 1-related family, represent minor constituents in tree nuts. These allergens are frequently cross-reactive with other food and pollen homologues, and are considered panallergens. Others, such as legumins, vicilins, and 2S albumins, represent major seed storage protein constituents of the nuts. The allergenic tree nuts discussed in this review include those most commonly responsible for allergic reactions such as hazelnut, walnut, cashew, and almond as well as those less frequently associated with allergies including pecan, chestnut, Brazil nut, pine nut, macadamia nut, pistachio, coconut, Nangai nut, and acorn.
Copyright 2003 S. Karger AG, Basel