Genetically modified and wild soybeans: an immunologic comparison

Allergy Asthma Proc. May-Jun 2005;26(3):210-6.


Most traits introduced into genetically engineered crops result from the expression of new proteins. As the first step toward assessing the allergenic potential of genetically modified organism (GMO) food, immunologic and physicochemical characterizations are needed. We prepared crude extract from GMO soybeans, wild soybeans, curd, and soy milk and then performed sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE). After acidification with HCl, the samples were separated to globulin and whey. To evaluate changes in protein composition, either the samples were heated or pepsin was added. Polymerase chain reaction with primer encoding the 35S-promotor and the 3-enol-pyruvyl-shikimat-5-phosphat-synthase gene were performed, respectively, to detect the GMO component. SDS-PAGE results showed definite protein bands at 80 kDa in GMO soybean, 50 kDa in wild soybean, and a similar distribution of protein bands was noticed below 40 kDa. It was difficult to observe protein distribution because of modifications that occurred during processing in soybean-processed products. After heating, proteins of GMO and wild soybeans showed similar distributions and no distinct bands were detected at 50 and 80 kDa. Although SDS-PAGE analyses of raw GMO and wild soybeans differed, the same protein bands of 68, 37, and 20 kDa were observed in the globulin fraction after acidification. After adding pepsin, 20- and 68-kDa bands were found preserved in GMO and wild soybeans. The polymerase chain reaction procedures with primers specific to GMO soybeans showed that GMO soybeans and some curd samples included a GMO component. The skin test results of 49 patients showed 13 positive results to wild soybeans and 8 positive results to GMO soybeans. One patient had a positive skin test result to GMO soybeans only. Sera from nine patients with positive skin tests to the crude extract and a positive capsulated allergen product test to the soybean antigen were used for the immunoblotting of GMO and wild soybeans. GMO soybeans revealed a unique strong immunoglobulin E binding band at 25 kDa in some patients and wild soybeans showed a strong immunoglobulin E binding band at 30-36 kDa. To assess the allergenicity of GMO food, more research, including a selection of controlled sample materials and immunoassays of qualified sera, is needed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Food Handling
  • Food Hypersensitivity / blood
  • Food Hypersensitivity / etiology*
  • Food, Genetically Modified / adverse effects*
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Milk Proteins / analysis
  • Pepsin A
  • Plant Extracts / adverse effects
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Skin Tests
  • Soybean Proteins / analysis*
  • Soybeans / adverse effects*
  • Soybeans / chemistry*
  • Whey Proteins


  • Milk Proteins
  • Plant Extracts
  • Soybean Proteins
  • Whey Proteins
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Pepsin A