Characterization of allergens in Apiaceae spices: anise, fennel, coriander and cumin


E. Jensen-Jarolim, Institute of General and Experimental Pathology. AKH, Erw. bau Ost. Währinger Gürtel 18–20, A-1090 Vienna, Austria.


Background Symptoms elicited by IgEmediated food allergy range from mild local to severe systemic reactions. Allergens in spices are particularly dangerous due to their hidden presence in many dishes.

Objectives and Methods According to clinical observations, mugwort and birch pollen allergy, and hypersensitivity to spices are frequently associated, but the crossreacting compounds were not defined so far. We tested sera of 15 patients who experienced adverse reactions to spiced food and characterized their IgE-binding patterns on anise, fennel, coriander and cumin extracts through immunoblot and inhibition experiments.

Results The use of anti-Bet v 1 (MoAb) and anti-profilin (rabbit) antibodies revealed the presence of crossreacting allergens in the tested spice extracts. Inhibition experiments showed that IgE-binding to allergens in Apiaceae spices could be blocked by preincubation of sera with rBet v I or rBet v 2 (birch profilin). Moreover, we detected crossreacting allergenic molecules in the molecular weight range of 60kDa. IgE-binding to spice allergens occurred only with sera of 10/15 (66%) patients with allergy to pollen (birch, niugwort) and/or celeriac. In five out of 15 (33%) patients with a history of adverse reaction to spices, but without pollen and celeriac allergy, no IgE-binding to any spice protein could be demonstrated. It is possible that these clinical reactions could bo elicited by other types of hypersensitivity (Type II. IIII, IV), however, as spices contain highly reactive substances, the symptoms may most likely be classified as food-intolerant.

Conclusions Bet v 1- and profilin-related allergens may, besides higher molecular weight allergenic molecules, be responsible for Type I allergy to anise, fennel, coriander or cumin, members of the Apiaceae.