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Keywords:

  • Atopy;
  • cross-reactivity;
  • legumes;
  • lupin;
  • pea;
  • peanut;
  • sensitization;
  • soybean

Abstract

The increasing use of lupin in food processing poses a problem of potential (cross-)allergic reactions. To evaluate the prevalence of sensitization to lupin in comparison to that of other legumes skin prick tests were performed with lupin, pea, peanut, and soybean in atopic (n = 81) and non-atopic (n = 102) German adults. Of these 183 subjects, 20 subjects had to be excluded due to invalid skin prick tests (reaction to histamine <3 mm or to sodium chloride >2 mm). Thus, skin prick tests of 163 subjects were included in final analyses. Of 163 subjects, 18 had a positive reaction to at least one legume tested. Overall skin prick test reactivity was different among non-atopic and atopic subjects (P = 0.005). Altogether, six subjects (4%) were sensitized to lupin, 12 (7%) to pea, 5 (3%) to peanut, and 8 (5%) to soybean. Two (2%) of the 92 non-atopic subjects and 4 (6%) of the 71 atopic subjects had a positive skin prick test to lupin. Of the 6 subjects sensitized to lupin, 3 (50%) were also sensitized to pea, 3 (50%) to peanut, and 5 (83%) to soybean. In conclusion, the prevalence rates of lupin sensitization were comparable to or even lower than those of pea, peanut, and soybean. To date, lupin allergy is suspected to be relatively uncommon in the overall German population since lupin sensitization occurred in only 2% of non-atopic subjects. However, there is a clear risk of a lupin allergy in predisposed subjects, since the frequency of lupin sensitization was 6% in atopic subjects. In particular, subjects with existing sensitization or allergy to other legumes are at higher risk for a sensitization or allergy to lupin due to cross-reactivity.