Background Cereals are among the major foods that account for food hypersensitivity reactions. Salt-soluble proteins appear to be the most important allergens contributing to the asthmatic response. In contrast, very limited information is available regarding cereal allergens responsible for allergic reactions after ingestion of cereal proteins.
Objective The aim of this study was to evaluate the allergenic reactivity of ingested and inhaled cereal allergens in different ages, in order to investigate if the response to different allergens would depend on the sensitization route.
Methods We included 66 patients in three groups. Group 1: 40 children aged 3 to 6 months who suffered from diarrhoea, vomiting, eczema or weight loss after the introduction of cereal formula in their diet and in which a possibility of coeliac disease was discarded. Group 2: 18 adults with food allergy due to cereals tested by prick tests, specific IgE and food challenge. Group 3: eight patients previously diagnosed as having baker's asthma. Sera pool samples were collected from each group of patients and IgE immunoblotting was performed.
Results We found an important sensitization to cereal in the 40 children. The most important allergens were wheat followed by barley and rye. Among the adults with cereal allergy, sensitization to other allergens was common, especially to Lolium perenne (rye grass) pollen. Immunoblotting showed similar allergenic detection in the three groups.
Conclusion Clinically significant reactivity to cereal may be observed in early life. Inhalation and ingestion routes causing cereal allergy seem to involve similar allergens. The diet control was more effective in children. The possibility of cereal allergy after the introduction of cereal formula during the lactation period should not be underestimated.