Hydrolysed wheat proteins present in cosmetics can induce immediate hypersensitivities

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Abstract

Cosmetics containing hydrolysed wheat proteins (HWP) can induce rare but severe allergic reactions. 9 patients, all females without common wheat allergy, but with contact urticaria to such cosmetics, were studied. 6 of them also experienced generalized urticaria or anaphylaxis to foods containing HWP. All patients had low to moderate levels of immunoglobulin (Ig)E specific of wheat flour (f4) or gluten (f79). Their sensitivity to HWP and their tolerance to unmodified wheat proteins extracted from grains were confirmed using skin tests. Immunoblotting analyses showed that IgE from all patients reacted with almost all HWP tested. Reactions generally occurred with large random peptide aggregates. IgE reacted also with unmodified grain proteins, which contrasted with skin tests results. They reacted always with salt soluble proteins but variably with gluten proteins. No reaction occurred with gliadins in patients without associated immediate hypersensitivity to food containing HWP. These results show the role of hydrolysis on the allergenicity of wheat proteins, both through skin or digestive routes. At least part of the epitopes involved is pre-existing in unmodified wheat proteins. The aggregation of peptide bearing these epitopes and others created by hydrolysis, along with the increased solubility and the route of exposure, are possible factors of the allergenicity of HWP.

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