Wheat-dependent exercise-induced anaphylaxis

Clin Exp Allergy. 2016 Jan;46(1):10-20. doi: 10.1111/cea.12640.


Wheat-dependent exercise-induced anaphylaxis (WDEIA) is a rare, but potentially severe food allergy exclusively occurring when wheat ingestion is accompanied by augmenting cofactors. It is clinically characterized by anaphylactic reactions ranging from urticaria and angioedema to dyspnoea, hypotension, collapse, and shock. WDEIA usually develops after ingestion of wheat products followed by physical exercise. Other cofactors are acetylsalicylic acid and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, alcohol, and infections. The precise mechanisms of WDEIA remain unclear; exercise and other cofactors might increase gastrointestinal allergen permeability and osmolality, redistribute blood flow, or lower the threshold for IgE-mediated mast cell degranulation. Among wheat proteins, ω5-gliadin and high-molecular-weight glutenin subunits have been reported to be the major allergens. In some patients, WDEIA has been discussed to be caused by epicutaneous sensitization with hydrolysed wheat gluten included in cosmetics. Diagnosis is made based on the patient's history in combination with allergy skin testing, determination of wheat-specific IgE serum antibodies, basophil activation test, histamine release test, and/or exercise challenge test. Acute treatment includes application of adrenaline or antihistamines. The most reliable prophylaxis of WDEIA is a gluten-free diet. In less severe cases, a strict limitation of wheat ingestion before exercise and avoidance of other cofactors may be sufficient.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Anaphylaxis / diagnosis
  • Anaphylaxis / etiology*
  • Anaphylaxis / immunology
  • Antigens, Plant / immunology*
  • Exercise*
  • Glutens / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology
  • Triticum / adverse effects*
  • Wheat Hypersensitivity / complications*
  • Wheat Hypersensitivity / immunology*


  • Allergens
  • Antigens, Plant
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Glutens