Genetic engineering of plant food with reduced allergenicity

Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). 2009 Jan 1;14:59-71. doi: 10.2741/3231.


Food allergies are a major health concern in industrialized countries. Since a specific immunotherapy for food allergies is not available in clinical routine praxis till now, reduction of allergens in foods, either by food processing or genetic engineering are strategies to minimize the risk of adverse reactions for food allergic patients. This review summarizes biotechnological approaches, especially the RNA interference (RNAi) technology, for the reduction of selected allergens in plant foods. So far, only a limited number of reports showing proof-of-concept of this methodology are available. Using RNAi an impressive reduction of allergen accumulation was obtained which was stable in the next generations of plants. Since threshold doses for most food allergens are not known, the beneficial effect has to be evaluated by oral challenge tests in the future. The article critically addresses the potential and limitations of genetic engineering, as well as of alternative strategies to generate "low allergic" foods.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / genetics*
  • Allergens / immunology
  • Food Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Food Hypersensitivity / prevention & control*
  • Gene Silencing
  • Humans
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / immunology*
  • RNA Interference
  • Risk Assessment


  • Allergens