Molecular and Immunological Characterization of Shellfish Allergens

  • Patrick S. C. Leung
  • Ka-Hou Chu


Seafood is a popular component of human diet particularly in the United States, Japan and Europe. In 1995, US consumers spent more than $38 billion in seafood with an average consumption of 15 lbs of seafood, including 2.5 pounds of shrimp per capita. During the last decade with the rapid growth of shrimp farming, the amount of shrimp consumed has doubled to 1 billion pounds per year in the United States, followed by Japan and the European Union. Shrimp is a heart-healthy diet because it has almost no fat, and most importantly no saturated fat. Thus, it is not surprising that shrimp and other shellfish are becoming more popular in our diet. Despite the high nutritious value and the increasing demand of shellfish, some individuals develop hypersensitive reactions upon ingestion of shellfish and cannot enjoy these delicious seafood. It is estimated that 0.3 to 7.5% of the U.S. population have some forms of food allergy (Taylor, 1985).Shellfish allergies are among the more commonly encountered food allergies in adults (Taylor and Bush, 1988). More than 250,000 people are having a high risk of developing allergic reactions to the ingestion of seafood products. (Henriksen, 1994; Lehrer et al., 1992). Commonly consumed shellfish includes shrimp, lobster, crab and crayfish (class Crustacea) and a variety of mollusks of class Gastropoda, Bivalvia and Cephalopoda (Table 1). Here, we will describe the common allergic reactions to shellfish and current discoveries on the biochemical, molecular and immunological characterization of shellfish allergens.


Food Allergy Spiny Lobster Snow Crab Immunological Characterization Homarus Americanus 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick S. C. Leung
    • 1
  • Ka-Hou Chu
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of Rheumatolology/Allergy and Clinical Immunology School of MedicineUniversity of California, DavisDavisUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatinHong Kong, China

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