Digestion and Transport across the Intestinal Epithelium Affects the Allergenicity of Ara h 1 and 3 but Not of Ara h 2 and 6

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2021 Mar;65(6):e2000712. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.202000712. Epub 2021 Jan 25.


Scope: No accepted and validated methods are currently available which can accurately predict protein allergenicity. In this study, the role of digestion and transport on protein allergenicity is investigated.

Methods and results: Peanut allergens (Ara h 1, 2, 3, and 6) and a milk allergen (β-lactoglobulin) are transported across pig intestinal epithelium using the InTESTine model and afterward basophil activation is measured to assess the (remaining) functional properties. Additionally, allergens are digested by pepsin prior to epithelial transport and their allergenicity is assessed in a human mast cell activation assay. Remarkably, transported Ara h 1 and 3 are not able to activate basophils, in contrast to Ara h 2 and 6. Digestion prior to transport results in a significant increase in mast cell activation of Ara h 1 and 3 dependent on the length of digestion time. Activation of mast cells by Ara h 2 and 6 is unaffected by digestion prior to transport.

Conclusions: Digestion and transport influences the allergenicity of Ara h 1 and 3, but not of Ara h 2 and 6. The influence of digestion and transport on protein allergenicity may explain why current in vitro assays are not predictive for allergenicity.

Keywords: allergenicity prediction; basophil and mast cell activation; food allergy; intestinal protein transport; protein digestion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't