Background: Oral food challenges have demonstrated that diagnosis of almond allergy based on extract-sIgE tests displays low specificity. Molecular allergy diagnosis is expected to improve accuracy, but its value in diagnosing almond allergy remains unknown. The aim of this study was to identify relevant almond allergens and examine their ability to improve almond allergy diagnosis.
Methods: IgE-reactive proteins were purified from almond kernels. IgE binding to almond extract and the allergens was analyzed by quantitative ELISA using sera from 18 subjects with a proven almond allergy. The control group consisted of sera from 18 subjects allergic to peanut and/or tree nuts but tolerant to almond.
Results: Three IgE-binding proteins were identified: legumin (Pru du 6), alpha-hairpinin (Pru du 8), and mandelonitrile lyase (Pru du 10). Positive IgE (≥0.35 kU/L) to almond extract showed 94% sensitivity but only 33% specificity. IgE to Pru du 6 maintained high sensitivity (83%) and provided superior specificity (78%). Sera from almond-allergic subjects had significantly higher IgE levels to almond extract (P < .0001) and Pru du 6 (P < .0001) than sera from tolerant donors. Sensitization to Pru du 6 was highly specific for almond allergy, while frequencies of sensitization to legumins from peanut, walnut, hazelnut, and cashew were similar in both groups. IgE to Pru du 8 and Pru du 10 was less sensitive (41% and 67%), but showed specificities of 100% and 61%.
Conclusion: The use of almond allergens markedly increases the diagnostic specificity compared to the extract. Pru du 6 is a potential new molecular marker for almond allergy.
Keywords: almond allergens; diagnostic specificity; food allergy; molecular allergy diagnosis; tree nut allergy.
© 2020 The Authors. Allergy published by European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.