Maize food allergy: a double-blind placebo-controlled study


Elide A. Pastorello, MD, Niguarda Ca' Granda Hospital, S.C. Allergologia e Immunologia Clinica, A.O. Niguarda Cà Granda Hospital, Milan, Italy, Piazza Ospedale Maggiore 3, 20162 Milan.


Background Maize allergy is not very common especially in Europe. The number of studies that address IgE mediated maize allergy is all too few.

Objective Evaluate subjects with a history of maize allergy by double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenge; identify the spectrum of symptoms manifested during challenge; determine the lowest provocation dose (PD) during challenge; determine the performance characteristics of maize skin prick test and specific IgE.

Methods Twenty-seven patients with a history of maize allergy were enrolled to be evaluated by skin test, specific IgE and double-blind placebo-controlled maize challenge.

Results Forty-eight percent of the patients were challenge positive. PD range was 0.1–25 g. Fifty-four percent of the maize allergic subjects had a PD that was leqslant R: less-than-or-eq, slant2.5 g; two subjects reacted to 100 mg of maize. Comparison of maize specific IgE levels and skin test results to the challenge results revealed the following (specific IgE level/skin testing): sensitivity 1.00/0.846, specificity 0.077/0.384, positive predictive value 0.520/0.579, and negative predictive value 1.00/0.714.

Conclusion Maize is a cause of IgE-mediated allergic reactions to foods in adults and children. Nearly half of the subjects recruited were confirmed by challenge to be allergic to maize. Twenty-three percent of the positive challenge patients manifested symptoms that involved two organ systems, thus fulfilling the criteria for maize induced anaphylaxis. Maize is allergenic and can pose a risk for symptomatic food allergy at a dose of 100 mg.