Distinction between peanut allergy and tolerance by characterization of B cell receptor repertoires

Allergy. 2021 Sep;76(9):2753-2764. doi: 10.1111/all.14897. Epub 2021 May 24.


Background: Specific IgE against a peanut 2S albumin (Ara h 2 or 6) is the best predictor of clinically relevant peanut sensitization. However, sIgE levels of peanut allergic and those of peanut sensitized but tolerant patients partly overlap, highlighting the need for improved diagnostics to prevent incorrect diagnosis and consequently unnecessary food restrictions. Thus, we sought to explore differences in V(D)J gene transcripts coding for peanut 2S albumin-specific monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) from allergic and sensitized but tolerant donors.

Methods: 2S albumin-binding B-cells were single-cell sorted from peripheral blood of peanut allergic (n=6) and tolerant (n=6) donors sensitized to Ara h2 and/or 6 (≥ 0.1 kU/l) and non-atopic controls (n=5). h 2 and/or 6 (≥ 0.1 kU/l). Corresponding h heavy and light chain gene transcripts were heterologously expressed as mAbs and tested for specificity to native Ara h2 and 6. HCDR3 sequence motifs were identified by Levenshtein distances and hierarchically clustering.

Results: The frequency of 2S albumin-binding B cells was increased in allergic (median: 0.01%) compared to tolerant (median: 0.006%) and non-atopic donors (median: 0.0015%, p = 0.008). The majority of mAbs (74%, 29/39) bound specifically to Ara h 2 and/or 6. Non-specific mAbs (9/10) were mainly derived from non-atopic controls. In allergic donors, 89% of heavy chain gene transcripts consisted of VH3 family genes, compared with only 54% in sensitized but tolerant and 63% of non-atopic donors. Additionally, certain HCDR3 sequence motifs were associated with allergy (n = 4) or tolerance (n = 3) upon hierarchical clustering of their Levenshtein distances.

Conclusions: Peanut allergy is associated with dominant VH3 family gene usage and certain public antibody sequences (HCDR3 motifs).

Keywords: VH family gene usage; clinically irrelevant sensitization; food allergy diagnostics; monoclonal antibodies; peanut allergy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 2S Albumins, Plant / genetics
  • Allergens
  • Antigens, Plant
  • Arachis
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Peanut Hypersensitivity* / diagnosis
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell


  • 2S Albumins, Plant
  • Allergens
  • Antigens, Plant
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell
  • Immunoglobulin E

Associated data

  • RefSeq/MW2971045
  • RefSeq/MW271525