IgE binding to pepsin-digested water soluble and insoluble wheat proteins

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Positive skin prick tests to wheat are a common finding among atopic patients, but only a minor fraction of these patients show immediate clinical symptoms after wheat ingestion. The aim of this study was to evaluate the allergenicity of wheat proteins after pepsin treatments.


Six patients with positive specific IgE and/or skin prick test to soluble wheat proteins and to gluten were studied. Five of them had no symptoms after wheat ingestion and showed a negative oral challenge test. All sera were analysed with extracts obtained after pepsin hydrolysis during different time periods of water-soluble and insoluble wheat proteins by IgE immunoblotting.


A pepsin-sensitive allergen of around 35 kDa was recognized by the five atopic negative wheat oral challenge patients in the undigested water-insoluble extract. A patient showing immediate urticaria after wheat ingestion detected a pepsin-resistant allergen with similar molecular weight. Finally, an inhalation-induced asthma patient recognized water-soluble proteins (of around 14 kDa) that could correspond to the α-amylase inhibitors.


Our immunoblotting method shows better correlation with the clinical symptoms than skin prick test and CAP results. Pepsin resistance of the acetic acid-soluble wheat proteins may be responsible for the immediate symptoms of the patient who presented immediate urticaria.

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