, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 279-291

Biochemistry of food allergens

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Summary and Prospectus

The proteins within foods that are allergenic represent a wide variety of proteins with functions that vary from storage to enzymatic activity. General characteristics of food allergens include an acidic isoelctric point, abundance in the food, stability to digestion, and the presence of multiple, linear IgE binding epitopes. However, there are exceptions even to these very general characteristics making it nearly impossible to predict whether a protein is a potential allergen. Since the development of an IgE response to an allergen involves a series of interactions among antigen-presenting cells (APCs), T-cells, and B-cells, it is important to continue to characterize both B-cell and T-cell epitopes of known allergens. With this information, it will be possible to improve diagnosis, develop new immunotherapeutic strategies, and eventually develop hypoallergenic plants for a safer food supply.