• albumin allergy;
  • epithelia allergy;
  • hamster allergy;
  • horse allergy;
  • meat allergy

Some clinical observations have revealed an association between allergy to epithelia and allergy to meat known as the pork–cat syndrome. A common allergen, serum albumin, has been found in people affected by this (1, 2). Secretion of allergens into the environment by mammals and pets is an important cause of IgE antibody responses, and a risk factor for asthma development (3, 4). We report the case of a woman with asthma related to hamster exposure, and with food allergy due to horse meat. Epithelia inhalation allergy Linked with meat allergy.

A 39-year-old woman referred a recent episode of lip angioedema after eating horse meat. She tolerated other types of meat. She had experienced asthma due to cat epithelia and oral pruritus after ingesting rabbit meat as a child. Since the introduction of a hamster at home in the previous year, she has suffered from asthma.

Skin prick tests (SPT) to common inhalant allergens were positive to cat and dog. SPT to different animal epithelia were positive to hamster and Guinea pig. SPT with fresh foods were positive to beef, pork, rabbit and horse meat and negative to poultry meat.

Immunoblotting with cat, hamster and Guinea pig epithelia, and with beef, rabbit, and horse-meat extracts showed an IgE-binding protein band of ∼ 65 kDa, with the same electrophoretic mobility as bovine serum albumin(Fig. 1). This band was not observed in chicken meat. IgE cross-reactivity between hamster epithelium and horse meat was studied by RAST inhibition and a partial inhibition of ∼ 30% was obtained.


Figure 1. IgE-immunoblotting after SDS-PAGE of different epithelium and meat extracts. Lane 1, hamster epithelium; lane 2, Guinea pig epithelium; lane 3, cat epithelium; lane 4, negative control; lane 5, rabbit meat; lane 6, beef; lane 7, chicken meat; lane 8, horse meat; lane 9, bovine serum albumin; lane 10, negative control.

Download figure to PowerPoint

This case is interesting because the patient began with asthma related to cat exposure, and later the meat allergy appeared. After avoiding exposure to cats the patient was able to tolerate meat. After the second exposure to epithelium (from the hamster), she developed asthma and oral syndrome to horse meat. RAST inhibition studies between hamster epithelia and horse meat demonstrated a partial cross-reactivity, for which serum albumin may be responsible. IgE-immunoblotting to different types of meat confirmed recognition of rabbit, cow, and horse albumins but not to chicken albumin α-livetin. Surprisingly, despite previous reactions to rabbit meat and the immunoblotting results, the patient now tolerated rabbit meat as well as beef. Although serum albumins from various species are highly homologous, a significant variability in IgE reactivities has been observed (3). This might explain why this woman did not tolerate horse meat, although she did tolerate other types of meat.

In conclusion, a partial cross-reactivity between horse meat and hamster epithelium has been demonstrated using RAST inhibition. The meat allergy is probably caused by previous exposure to mammal epithelia.


  1. Top of page
  2. References
  • 1
    Drouet M, Boutet S, Lauret MG, et al. The pork–cat syndrome or crossed allergy between pork meat and cat epithelia (1). Allerg Immunol (Paris) 1994;26(166–168): 171172.
  • 2
    Sabbah A, Rousseau C, Lauret MG, Drouet M. The pork–cat syndrome: RAST inhibition test with Fel d 1. Allerg Immunol (Paris) 1994;26: 259260.
  • 3
    Spitzauer S, Pandjaitan B, Söregi G, et al. IgE cross-reactivities against albumins in patients allergic to animals. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1995;96: 951959.
  • 4
    Chapman MD, Wood RA. The role and remediation of animal allergens in allergic diseases. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2001;107: S414S421.