New allergens from spices in the Apiaceae family: anise Pimpinella anisum L. and caraway Carum carvi L

Cent Eur J Immunol. 2020;45(3):241-247. doi: 10.5114/ceji.2020.101236. Epub 2020 Nov 1.


Spices are gaining popularity in individual consumption, food industry, and medicine. While the incidence of allergies is constantly rising, those caused by consumption of herbs and spices are relatively rare. The allergic potential of spices added to many dishes and products is dangerous, as consumers may ingest them unknowingly. At particular risk are persons allergic to both birch and mugwort pollen because of cross-reactivity to proteins similar to birch allergen, Bet v 1 and profilins, who often exhibit a clinical condition termed "mugwort-celery-spice syndrome". The aim of our research was to analyze the extracts of anise and caraway for the presence of major pan-allergens, such as Bet v 1 analogues and profilins. Secondly, we analyzed the prevalence of reactions towards these pan-allergens among patients sensitive to spices. Finally, we tried to identify some of the previously unidentified allergenic proteins in these spices. In order to identify Bet v 1 analogues and profilins in anise and caraway, we conducted immunoblotting of the proteins extracted from the spices with anti-Bet v 1 and anti-profilin antibodies. The identification of new allergens was performed by initial selection of proteins through immunoblotting with sera of patients sensitive to spices. The proteins were subsequently characterized with LC-MS/MS. The presence of Bet v 1 analogues and profilins in anise was confirmed and a new allergen, glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase, was identified. Moreover, new caraway allergens were found, including Bet v 1 analogue, profilin, and elongation factor α.

Keywords: allergens; anise; caraway; epitopes; food allergy; spice allergens.