• Food allergens;
  • Food allergy;
  • Food matrix;
  • Gastrointestinal digestion;
  • IgE


Scope: Food allergy is caused by primary (class 1) food allergens, e.g. Bos d 5 (cow's milk) and Cor a 8 (hazelnut) or secondary (class 2) food allergens, e.g. Mal d 1 (apple). The latter cannot sensitize susceptible individuals but can cause allergy due to immunological cross-reactivity with homologous respiratory allergens. Here, we studied the effects of food matrix on gastrointestinal proteolysis, epithelial transport and in vivo absorption of class 1 and class 2 food allergens.

Methods and results: Mal d 1 lost its IgE-reactivity immediately after simulated gastric digestion whereas Bos d 5 and Cor a 8 did not. Only Cor a 8 maintained IgE-binding capacity after simulated intestinal proteolysis. The presence of hazelnut and peanut extracts, which served as protein-rich model food matrices, delayed gastrointestinal degradation and reduced epithelial transport rates of all allergens through CaCo-2 monolayers. Finally, IgE-reactive allergens were assessed at different time points in sera from rats fed with all three allergens with or without hazelnut extract. The levels of all allergens peaked 2 h after animals were fed without matrix and increased over 8 h after feeding.

Conclusions: A protein-rich food matrix delays gastrointestinal digestion and epithelial transport of food allergens and thereby may affect their sensitizing capacity and clinical symptoms.