The balance between caseins and whey proteins in cow's milk determines its allergenicity

J Dairy Sci. 2005 May;88(5):1654-60. doi: 10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(05)72837-X.


Cow's milk allergy is quite common in the first years of human life. Protein composition plays an important role in this pathology, particularly the casein/whey protein ratio. It is known that milks from different species have different sensitization capacities although their protein sources are quite similar. Thus, the objective of this work was to compare the allergenicity of native cow's milk and milk with a modified ratio of casein and whey proteins in a murine model of atopy. Twenty-four Balb/c mice were orally sensitized to native cow's milk or modified cow's milk with a casein/whey protein ratio of 40:60. During the sensitization period, the number of mice suffering from diarrhea was significantly higher in the native cow's milk-sensitized group than in the modified milk-sensitized group. Once mice were killed, plasma histamine levels were shown to be significantly higher in native cow's milk-sensitized mice. In addition, cow's milk proteins induced a higher lymphocyte sensitization in the native milk-sensitized mice, with a significant increase in the specific proliferation ratio of these cells. These results suggest that the balance between caseins and whey proteins plays an important role in the sensitization capacity of cow's milk, and its modification might be a way to reduce the allergenicity of cow's milk.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caseins / analysis*
  • Cattle
  • Female
  • Histamine / blood
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Lactoglobulins / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Milk / chemistry*
  • Milk / immunology
  • Milk Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Milk Proteins / agonists*
  • Whey Proteins


  • Caseins
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Lactoglobulins
  • Milk Proteins
  • Whey Proteins
  • Histamine