Background Food allergy to cherry occurs throughout Europe, typically with restricted oral reactions in the central and northern parts but with frequent systemic reactions in the Mediterranean region. Previous studies have demonstrated insufficient sensitivity of commercially available cherry extract reagents in the diagnosis of cherry allergy.
Objective To assess the diagnostic performance of specific IgE tests based on recombinant cherry allergens in comparison with an extract-based assay and to skin prick test (SPT). A secondary objective was to analyse the frequency of systemic reactions in cherry-allergic subjects across Europe, including the largest population of LTP-sensitized subjects from central Europe studied to date.
Methods A total of 186 subjects from central Europe and Spain were studied. Serum IgE was analysed with ImmunoCAP tests carrying rPru av 1, 3 and 4, combined and separately, and cherry extract.
Results Among the central European cherry allergics, the mix of rPru av 1, 3 and 4 had a sensitivity of 95%, compared with 65% for cherry extract, and the IgE binding capacity of the recombinant mix was considerably higher. The sensitivity of the two tests was more comparable in the Spanish population, 95% and 86%, respectively. The recombinant allergen ImmunoCAP equalled SPT in terms of sensitivity and specificity. Consistent with previous reports, major geographic differences in sensitization pattern and prevalence of systemic reactions were found. A significantly higher rate of systemic reactions was found in Spanish patients sensitized to Pru av 3 whereas German patients sensitized to LTP only had oral allergy syndrome.
Conclusions The recombinant cherry allergen ImmunoCAP is a highly sensitive diagnostic tool, clearly superior to any diagnostic method based on cherry extract. Three cherry allergens are sufficient for detecting sensitization in 95% of cherry-allergic subjects. Systemic reactions are common in LTP-sensitized individuals but seem to require at least one additional causative factor.