Is epitope recognition of shrimp allergens useful to predict clinical reactivity?

Clin Exp Allergy. 2012 Feb;42(2):293-304. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2222.2011.03920.x. Epub 2011 Dec 22.


Background: Shrimp is a frequent cause of severe allergic reactions world-wide. Due to issues such as cross-reactivity, diagnosis of shrimp allergy is still inaccurate, requiring the need for double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenges (DBPCFC). A better understanding of the relationship between laboratory findings and clinical reactivity is needed.

Objective: To determine whether sensitization to certain shrimp allergens or recognition of particular IgE epitopes of those allergens are good biomarkers of clinical reactivity to shrimp.

Methods: Thirty-seven consecutive patients were selected with clinical histories of shrimp allergy. Skin prick test, specific IgE determinations, DBPCFC and immunoblot assays to shrimp extract were performed. IgE binding to synthetic overlapping peptides representing the sequence of the four allergens from the Pacific white shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) identified to date (Lit v1, Lit v2, Lit v3 and Lit v4) was analysed.

Results: Of 37 (46%) patients, 17 had a positive challenge to shrimp (11 children and 6 adults). By microarray, patients with positive challenges showed more intense binding to shrimp peptides than those with negative challenges. Statistically significant differences in terms of the frequency and intensity of IgE binding to some epitopes were observed between the two groups. Diagnostic efficiency was higher for individual epitopes than for proteins. Particularly, efficiency was highest for certain Lit v 1 and Lit v 2 epitopes, followed by Lit v 3 and Lit v 4 epitopes.

Conclusion and clinical relevance: Patients with positive shrimp challenges present in general more intense and diverse epitope recognition to all four shrimp allergens. IgE antibodies to these shrimp epitopes could be used as biomarkers for prediction of clinical reactivity in subjects with sensitization to shrimp. Patients with positive shrimp challenges show more intense sensitization and more diverse epitope recognition. Several IgE-binding shrimp epitopes could be used as biomarkers for predicting clinical reactivity in subjects with sensitization to shrimp.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Allergens / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Epitopes / immunology*
  • Epitopes / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Food Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Food Hypersensitivity / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandalidae*
  • Peptides / immunology*
  • Peptides / pharmacology
  • Skin Tests / methods


  • Allergens
  • Biomarkers
  • Epitopes
  • Peptides
  • Immunoglobulin E