Background: Buckwheat allergy is a rare food allergy in Europe and North America, whereas it is often described and studied in Asia. The aim of this study was to describe a series of patients with proven buckwheat allergy evaluated in an Italian allergy clinic. Co-sensitization to other food and inhalant allergens and immunoblotting profiles of buckwheat-allergic patients were studied.
Methods: Patients with suspected buckwheat allergy who attended the allergy clinic between January 1, 2006, and September 30, 2008, were evaluated. All patients underwent skin prick tests for a standard panel of inhalant and food allergens, prick-by-prick with buckwheat flour, buckwheat-specific IgE determinations, and double-blind placebo-controlled food challenge (DBPCFC) with buckwheat flour. Immunoblotting with buckwheat flour extract was performed on sera from buckwheat-allergic patients.
Results: Among 72 patients with suspected buckwheat allergy, 30 (41.7%) were sensitized to buckwheat and 24 had a positive DBPCFC. The mean buckwheat IgE level was 6.23 kUA/l (range, 0.16 to >100 kUA/l). Several IgE-binding proteins were identified and grouped into three patterns: a 16-kDa band in patients with predominantly gastrointestinal symptoms with grass and wheat flour co-sensitization, a 25-kDa band in patients with predominantly cutaneous symptoms and a low frequency of co-sensitization, and a 40-kDa band in patients with anaphylaxis and a low frequency of co-sensitization.
Conclusions: Buckwheat allergy is an emerging food allergy in Italy. We identified three distinct patterns of clinical and laboratory characteristics, suggesting that specific allergens could be more frequently associated with clinical manifestations of different severity.
© 2010 John Wiley & Sons A/S.