Human basophils : a unique biological instrument to detect the allergenicity of food
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Journal of investigational allergology & clinical immunology : official organ of the International Association of Asthmology (INTERASMA) and Sociedad Latinoamericana de Alergia e Inmunologia / International Association of Asthmology. - Barcelona
, p. 179-184
University of Antwerp
Background: Labeling of major food allergens is mandatory for the safety of allergic consumers. Although enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, polymerase chain reaction, and mass spectrometry are sensitive and specifi c instruments to detect trace amounts of food proteins, they cannot measure the ability of food constituents to trigger activation of mast cells or basophils. Aim: We evaluated the basophil activation test as an instrument to determine the allergenic potential of trace amounts of food allergens in complex matrices. Peanut (Arachis hypogaea) allergy was selected as a proof-of-concept model. Methods: The study population comprised 5 severely peanut-allergic patients (3 males/2 females; median age, 12 years) all sensitized to 3 major peanut allergens (Ara h 1, Ara h 2, and Ara h 3) and 5 peanut-tolerant individuals (2 males/3 females; median age, 8 years). Basophils from patients and controls were stimulated with pure peanut extract and blank and peanut-spiked (0.1, 0.01, and 0.001 ppm) biscuits (baking time 11, 16, 21, 26 minutes) and chocolate extracts. Results: Blank biscuits and chocolate did not induce cell activation in patients or controls. A comparison between patients and controls showed signifi cantly higher activation of basophils after stimulation with 0.1 and 0.01 ppm of peanut-spiked biscuit at all baking times and peanut-spiked chocolate (P<.05). Conclusions: The basophil activation test is a highly sensitive and specifi c tool to detect traces of functionally active food allergens. For biscuits, its accuracy seems independent of baking time. Furthermore, it allows even the most sensitive patients to be included in study protocols.