Sesame allergy: role of specific IgE and skin-prick testing in predicting food challenge results

Allergy Asthma Proc. 2009 Nov-Dec;30(6):643-8. doi: 10.2500/aap.2009.30.3294.


There are conflicting data regarding the diagnostic value of sesame-specific IgE and sesame skin test. Currently, there are no established thresholds that predict clinical reactivity. We examined the correlation of sesame ImmunoCAP and skin-prick test (SPT) results with oral challenge outcomes in children suspected of having a sesame food allergy. We conducted a retrospective chart review of children, aged 2-12 years, receiving a sesame ImmunoCAP level, SPT, and food challenge from January 2004 to August 2008 at Children's Hospital Boston and affiliated allergy clinics. Food challenges were conducted in cases of questionable clinical history or a negative ImmunoCAP and/or negative SPT despite a convincing history. Thirty-three oral sesame challenges were conducted. Of the 33 challenges performed, 21% (n = 7) failed and 79% (n = 26) passed. A sesame-specific IgE level of > or = 7 kU(A)/L showed specificity of >90%. An SPT wheal size of > or = 6 mm showed specificity of >90%. Receiver operator characteristic (ROC) curve analysis for sesame-specific IgE revealed an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.56. ROC curve analysis for SPT wheal size revealed an AUC of 0.67. To our knowledge, this study represents the largest number of sesame challenges performed to evaluate the diagnostic value of both sesame-specific IgE and SPT. Based on our sample, both tests are not good predictors of true sesame allergy as determined by an oral challenge. We were unable to establish a threshold with a 95% positive predictive value for both sesame-specific IgE and SPT.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Plant / immunology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Epitopes
  • Female
  • Food Hypersensitivity / diagnosis*
  • Food Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunization
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood*
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sesamum / immunology*
  • Skin Tests*


  • Antigens, Plant
  • Epitopes
  • Immunoglobulin E