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Plant non-specific lipid transfer proteins as food and pollen allergens


Gabriel Salcedo, Unidad de Bioquímica, Departamento de Biotecnología, ETS Ingenieros Agrónomos, 28040 Madrid, Spain. E-mail:


Several members of the plant non-specific lipid transfer protein (LTP) family have been identified as relevant allergens in foods and pollens. These allergens are highly resistant to both heat treatment and proteolytic digestion. These characteristics have been related with the induction of severe systemic reactions in many patients, and with the possibility of being primary sensitizers by the oral route. A specific geographical distribution pattern of sensitization to LTP allergens has been uncovered. This allergen family is particularly important in the Mediterranean area, but shows a very limited incidence in Central and Northern Europe. The potential role in the plant, as well as the biochemical and allergenic properties of the LTP family, are reviewed here.