Evaluating the allergic risk of genetically modified soybean

Yonsei Med J. 2006 Aug 31;47(4):505-12. doi: 10.3349/ymj.2006.47.4.505.


Genetically modified (GM) soybean (carrying the EPSPS transgene) is the most common GM food in Korea. In order to assess whether genetic modification increases the allergenic risk of soybeans, the allergenicity and IgE-reactive components of wild-type and GM soybean extracts were compared in allergic adults who had been sensitized to soybeans. We enrolled 1,716 adult allergy patients and 40 healthy, non-atopic controls. Skin prick tests and IgE enzyme linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) were performed using wild-type and GM soybean extracts, along with other common inhaled allergens. The specificities of serum IgE antibodies from allergic patients and the identities of the IgE-reactive components of the soybean extracts were compared using ELISA inhibition testing, 2-dimensional gel electrophoresis, and IgE immunoblotting. To evaluate the effects of digestive enzymes and heat treatment, the soybean extracts were heated or pre- incubated with or without simulated gastric and intestinal fluids. The IgE sensitization rates to wild-type and GM soybeans were identical (3.8% of allergic adults), and circulating IgE antibodies specific for the two extracts were comparable. The results of the ELISA inhibition test, SDS-PAGE, and IgE immunoblotting showed a similar composition of IgE-binding components within the wild-type and GM extracts, which was confirmed using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis, IgE immunoblotting, and amino acid sequencing. None of the subjects had a positive response to purified EPSPS protein in the skin prick test, ELISA, or IgE immunoblot analysis. These findings suggest that the IgE sensitization rate to GM soybean extracts is identical to that of wild-type soybean extracts in adult allergy patients. In addition, based on both in vivo and in vitro methods, the allergenicity of wild type and GM soybean extracts was identical.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Crops, Agricultural*
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Two-Dimensional
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Food / adverse effects*
  • Food Hypersensitivity / etiology
  • Food Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Immunoglobulin E / chemistry
  • Middle Aged
  • Plants, Genetically Modified*
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Skin Tests
  • Soybeans / immunology*


  • Allergens
  • Immunoglobulin E