Background and objective: Skin prick testing (SPT) with commercial extracts is the first step in the diagnosis of shrimp allergy, although its clinical efficiency is unknown. Objective: To analyze the clinical usefulness of all commercial crustacean extracts available for SPT in Italy.
Methods: We performed a multicenter study of 157 shrimp-allergic patients who underwent SPT with 5 commercial crustacean extracts and with house dust mite (HDM) extract. Commercial extracts were analyzed using SDS-PAGE and compared with a freshly prepared in-house shrimp extract. IgE to Pen a 1/Pen m 1, Pen m 2, and Pen m 4 was determined, and immunoblot analysis was performed on a large number of sera.
Results: The skin reactions caused by commercial crustacean extracts were extremely heterogeneous, resulting in 32 clinical profiles, with marked differences in protein content and missing proteins at molecular weights corresponding to those of major shrimp allergens. Only strong Pen a 1/Pen m 1 reactors reacted to both HDM and all 5 commercial extracts in SPT. Most patients, including those who were tropomyosin-negative, reacted to HDM. Patients reacted to a large and variable array of proteins, and IgE reactivity was common at high molecular weights (>50 kDa).
Conclusions: The in vivo diagnosis of shrimp allergy must continue to be based on SPT with fresh material. Shrimp-allergic patients frequently react to a number of ill-defined high-molecular-weight allergens, thus leaving currently available materials for component-resolved diagnosis largely insufficient. Mites and crustaceans probably share several allergens other than tropomyosin.
Keywords: Allergens; Allergy diagnosis; Food allergy; Shrimp allergy; Skin testing..