Background: There is a paucity of published data on the clinical presentation and the nature of the allergens involved in hypersensitivity to mollusks. This study reports the clinical and immunologic findings in 38 patients with reported immediate and delayed adverse reactions to abalone (Haliotis midae, Class Gastropoda).
Methods: Patients were recruited as part of a South African seafood allergy survey. Allergic symptoms were assessed by a self-administered questionnaire. A total of 38 patients with abalone sensitivity were recruited. Specific IgE responses to abalone and other mollusks were studied by using RAST and inhibition ELISAs. Skin prick tests and lymphocyte proliferation assays were also performed on several of the subjects. Allergenic components of Haliotis midae were identified with Western blotting.
Results: Twenty five of the 38 patients in the study were first seen with immediate symptoms, and 13 had delayed reactions. Seventeen of the sera tested were RAST positive. Skin prick tests responses with abalone extract were positive in all subjects with positive RAST responses (n = 8) and in 6 of 13 subjects with negative RAST responses. Five of the subjects with positive RAST responses had positive results on Western blotting and demonstrated binding to two major allergens with molecular weights of 38 and 49 kd. The 49 kd IgE-binding protein has been designated as Hal-m-1.
Conclusions: Abalone allergens are heat-stable proteins with molecular weights of 38 and 49 kd, later designated as Hal-m-1 according to International Union of Immunological Societies allergen nomenclature regulation. Our studies indicate a clear clinical and immunologic heterogeneity in patients reactive to abalone.