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α-Amylase [MAK Value Documentation, 1998]

Documentations and Methods

Published Online: 31 JAN 2012

DOI: 10.1002/3527600418.mb0enzastae0011

The MAK Collection for Occupational Health and Safety

The MAK Collection for Occupational Health and Safety

How to Cite

2012. α-Amylase [MAK Value Documentation, 1998]. The MAK Collection for Occupational Health and Safety. 1–3.

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 31 JAN 2012
Classification/MAK value:see Section IV of the List of MAK and BAT Values
Classification dates from:1995

1 Allergenic Effects

  1. Top of page
  2. Allergenic Effects
  3. Manifesto (MAK value, classification)
  4. References

1.1 Effects in man

α-Amylase obtained from Aspergillus oryzae is nowadays frequently added to flour used by bakers to improve the quality of the products. The induction of IgE-mediated reactions to this enzyme in bakers is now well documented (Baur et al. 1986, 1987, Bermejo et al. 1990, Birnbaum et al. 1988, Blanco Carmona et al. 1991, Bolm-Audorff et al. 1992, Brisman and Belin 1991, Losada et al. 1992, Quirce et al. 1992, Sander et al. 1993, Tarvainen et al. 1991, Wüthrich 1994). In one study, contact dermatitis induced by α-amylase in bakers has also been described (Morren et al. 1993).

Positive results were obtained with α-amylase for 14/75 bakers with workplace-related respiratory symptoms in an enzyme-allergen-sorbent test (EAST; controls 2/42) and for 16/71 in a prick test (controls 1/42) (Degens et al. 1994). 2 % of persons exposed to flour dust and 21 % of bakers with workplace-related rhinitis or asthmatic symptoms are sensitized to this enzyme (Baur et al. 1987). Mono-sensitization to α-amylase was also described in bakers with workplace-related symptoms (Baur et al. 1987, Baur and Weiß 1988). The clinical relevance of sensitization to α-amylase was confirmed in provocation tests; the very low concentrations, 0.01 to 1 mg/ml, required to produce symptoms in these tests indicate that the enzyme is an aggressive respiratory allergen (Baur et al. 1987, Birnbaum et al. 1988, Quirce et al. 1992).

In a study of 259 millers, eye, nose or respiratory tract symptoms were detected in 73 persons (28 %). Skin tests with α-amylase and the test for specific IgE antibodies yielded positive results in 12/73 workers. Positive results in the skin test were obtained in 4 of the millers who were free of symptoms and specific IgE antibodies were found in 2. However, in both workers without symptoms and those with symptoms, reactions to other allergens were also detected. Specific IgG antibodies were found in 45 of the workers (Moneo et al. 1994).

The question as to whether this baking additive also poses a risk for the consumer with respect to the development of food allergies is currently a matter of controversy (Baur et al. 1994b, Kanny and Moneret-Vautrin 1995, Schata and Jorde 1992).

In immunoblot studies, a major allergen with a relative molecular weight of 53 kD has been isolated from Aspergillus oryzae and has been shown to have α-amylase activity (Baur et al. 1986, 1994a). The traces of other components and contaminants which are present in the α-amylase as a result of the production method are probably of little immunological significance.

α-Amylase and β-amylase from cereal grains have also been shown to be potent allergens and seem to play a role in the allergy to flour dust. There is little cross-reactivity between the specific antibodies against α-amylase from fungi and those against α-amylase and β-amylase from cereals (Sandiford et al. 1994).

1.2 Effects on animals

In a group of 10 BALB/c mice, two 250 µl doses of a 1 % amylase solution injected intraperitoneally 7 days apart caused an increase in the level of specific IgG and IgE antibodies. However, no increase in the serum IgE concentration was found (Hilton et al. 1994).

2 Manifesto (MAK value, classification)

  1. Top of page
  2. Allergenic Effects
  3. Manifesto (MAK value, classification)
  4. References

α-Amylase can produce respiratory sensitization in man and is therefore designated with an “S”.


  1. Top of page
  2. Allergenic Effects
  3. Manifesto (MAK value, classification)
  4. References
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  • Baur X, Weiß W (1988) Neue Entwicklungen in der Diagnostik des Berufsasthmas. Prax Klin Pneumol 42: 616
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