Diagnosis and Management of Patients with the α-Gal Syndrome

J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2020 Jan;8(1):15-23.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jaip.2019.09.017. Epub 2019 Sep 28.


The galactose-α-1,3-galactose (α-Gal) syndrome has many novel features that are relevant to diagnosis and management. In most cases, the diagnosis can be made on a history of delayed allergic reactions to mammalian meat and the blood test for IgE to the oligosaccharide α-Gal. In general, the diagnosis also dictates the primary treatment, that is, avoiding mammalian meat and also dairy in some cases. In the United States, the lone star tick is the primary cause of this disease, but different ticks are responsible in other countries. Blood levels of IgE to α-Gal often drop in patients who avoid recurrent tick bites, but the rate of decline is variable. Similarly, the delay before reactions is variable and the severity of the allergic reactions is not predicted by the delay or the titer of specific IgE. Some mammalian-derived products such as heart valves, gelatin-based plasma expanders, and pancreatic enzymes are relevant to only select patient groups. A minority of cases may benefit from avoiding a wide range of products that are prepared with mammalian-derived constituents, such as gelatin. This review focuses on the nature of the syndrome, common challenges in diagnosis and management, and also gaps in our current knowledge that would benefit from additional investigation.

Keywords: Anaphylaxis; Glycolipids; IgE to oligosaccharide; Red meat allergy; α-Gal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allergens
  • Animals
  • Food Hypersensitivity* / diagnosis
  • Food Hypersensitivity* / therapy
  • Galactose
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Tick Bites*


  • Allergens
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Galactose

Supplementary concepts

  • red meat allergy