Background: Over the past years, dust of green coffee beans has become known to be a relevant cause for occupational type I allergies. Up to now, allergy diagnostics is based on native green coffee bean extract which exhibits insufficient specificity due to interfering substances as well as batch-to-batch variations. No coffee allergen has been described on the molecular level so far. The aim of this study was to identify the first allergen of green coffee.
Methods: The allergenicity of native green coffee bean extracts was analyzed by means of ImmunoCAP in sera of 17 symptomatic coffee workers. A Coffea arabica pJuFo cDNA phage display library was constructed and screened for IgE binding to coffee proteins with 2 sera from allergic coffee workers. By sequence analysis, a new coffee allergen (Cof a 1) was identified, expressed in Escherichia coli, and evaluated by Western blots. The frequency of sensitization was investigated by ELISA screening.
Results: The Cof a 1 cDNA encoded a 32-kDa C. arabica class III chitinase. Serum IgE antibodies to the recombinant allergen were found in 3 out of 17 symptomatic coffee workers (18%), whereas only 2 of them reacted to the commercial allergy test.
Conclusions: A class III chitinase of C. arabica was identified to be the first known coffee allergen Cof a 1. It may have a relevant potential for the specific diagnosis of coffee sensitization.
Copyright © 2012 S. Karger AG, Basel.