Background Peanut and tree nut allergy is characterized by a high frequency of life-threatening anaphylactic reactions and typically lifelong persistence. Peanut allergy is more common than tree nut allergy, but many subjects develop hypersensitivity to both peanuts and tree nuts. Whether this is due to the presence of cross-reactive allergens remains unknown.
Objective The aim of this study was to investigate the presence of allergenic cross-reactivity between peanut and tree nuts.
Methods Western blotting and ELISA were performed using sera from subjects with or without peanut and tree nut allergy to assess immunoglobulin E (IgE) reactivity to peanut and tree nut extracts. Inhibition ELISA studies were conducted to assess the presence of allergenic cross-reactivity between peanut and tree nuts.
Results Western blot and ELISA results showed IgE reactivity to peanut, almond, Brazil nut, hazelnut and cashew nut for peanut- and tree nut-allergic subject sera. Raw and roasted peanut and tree nut extracts showed similar IgE reactivities. Inhibition ELISA showed that pre-incubation of sera with almond, Brazil nut or hazelnut extracts resulted in a decrease in IgE binding to peanut extract, indicating allergenic cross-reactivity. Pre-incubation of sera with cashew nut extract did not cause any inhibition.
Conclusion These results show that multiple peanut and tree nut sensitivities observed in allergic subjects may be due to cross-reactive B cell epitopes present in different peanut and tree nut allergens. The plant taxonomic classification of peanut and tree nuts does not appear to predict allergenic cross-reactivity.