Hypoallergenic legume crops and food allergy: factors affecting feasibility and risk

J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Jan 13;58(1):20-7. doi: 10.1021/jf902526y.


Currently, the sole strategy for managing food hypersensitivity involves strict avoidance of the trigger. Several alternate strategies for the treatment of food allergies are currently under study. Also being explored is the process of eliminating allergenic proteins from crop plants. Legumes are a rich source of protein and are an essential component of the human diet. Unfortunately, legumes, including soybean and peanut, are also common sources of food allergens. Four protein families and superfamilies account for the majority of legume allergens, which include storage proteins of seeds (cupins and prolamins), profilins, and the larger group of pathogenesis-related proteins. Two strategies have been used to produce hypoallergenic legume crops: (1) germplasm lines are screened for the absence or reduced content of specific allergenic proteins and (2) genetic transformation is used to silence native genes encoding allergenic proteins. Both approaches have been successful in producing cultivars of soybeans and peanuts with reduced allergenic proteins. However, it is unknown whether the cultivars are actually hypoallergenic to those with sensitivity. This review describes efforts to produce hypoallergenic cultivars of soybean and peanut and discusses the challenges that need to be overcome before such products could be available in the marketplace.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arachis / genetics
  • Arachis / immunology
  • Fabaceae / genetics
  • Fabaceae / immunology*
  • Food Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / immunology
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / genetics
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / immunology*
  • Soybeans / genetics
  • Soybeans / immunology


  • Plant Proteins