Background Only a few case reports of allergy to eggplant (Solanum melongena) have been reported. A relatively large number of individuals appear to experience food-related symptoms to eggplant in India.
Objective The major aims of this study are to assess the prevalence of food allergy to eggplant and analyse the age and gender distribution.
Methods Seven hundred and forty-one subjects (age range: 5–60 years) randomly selected from rural and urban areas of Mysore city were analysed for the prevalence of eggplant allergy based on case history, skin prick test (SPT) with eggplant extracts and allergen-specific IgE. The age and gender distribution for the prevalence of eggplant allergy and its association with other atopic conditions were assessed.
Results Sixty-eight (9.2%) subjects reported adverse reactions to ingestion of eggplant, of which 32 (4.3%) subjects had positive history/positive SPT and 36 (4.9%) had positive history/negative SPT. Sixteen (2.2%) subjects had negative history/positive SPT. Ten subjects (1.4%) experienced allergic symptoms in <2 h. Sensitization to eggplant by SPT was more in atopic (16.7%) compared with non-atopic subjects (3.8%). All the SPT-positive subjects (n=48) underwent evaluation for eggplant allergen-specific IgE, which was detected in 6 subjects (0.8%). Majority of the subjects sensitized to eggplant were in the age groups 16–45 years, and females were twice as likely to be sensitized as males. Female predominance (4 : 1) is more in the 16–30 year group.
Conclusions Many subjects experience adverse reactions to the ingestion of eggplant, possibly due to the pharmacologic action of histamine and other non-protein components, rather than to specific protein allergen(s). The prevalence of IgE-mediated eggplant allergy is estimated at ∼0.8%, with higher rates of sensitization in females.