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Research Project: Defining, Measuring, and Mitigating Attributes that Adversely Impact the Quality and Marketability of Foods

Location: Healthy Processed Foods Research

Title: Identification of almond (Prunus dulcis) vicilin as a food allergen

item CHE, HUILIAN - China Agricultural University
item Zhang, Yuzhu
item LYU, SHU-CHEN - Stanford University
item NADEAU, KARI - Stanford University
item McHugh, Tara

Submitted to: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/4/2018
Publication Date: 12/4/2018
Citation: Che, H., Zhang, Y., Lyu, S., Nadeau, K., McHugh, T.H. 2018. Identification of almond (Prunus dulcis) vicilin as a food allergen. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 67(1):425-432.

Interpretive Summary: Almonds are one of the most commonly produced and consumed nuts. The production of shelled almonds in the U.S. almost doubles the production of in-shell walnuts. The latter is the highest among all other tree nuts. However, as a source of food allergens, almonds are a tree nut belonging to one of the eight major food groups that cause most of the allergies in the U.S. To date, information about almond allergens is limited and sometimes confusing. This study reports the identification of almond vicilin as a food allergen for the first time. The reported result and the reagents generated may be used to understand the allergenicity of almond allergens and help enhance the marketability of almonds in the future.

Technical Abstract: Almonds are one of the tree nuts listed by US FDA as a food allergen source. A food allergen identified with patient sera has been debated to be the 2S albumin or the 7S vicilin. However, neither of these proteins has been defined as a food allergen. The purpose of this study was to clone, express, and purify almond vicilin and test whether it is a food allergen. Western blot experiment was performed with 18 individual serums from patients with double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical almond allergies. The results showed that 44% of the sera contained IgE antibodies that recognized the recombinant almond vicilin, indicating that it is an almond allergen. Identifying this and additional almond allergens will facilitate the understanding of the allergenicity of seed proteins in tree nuts and their cross-reactivity.