Background: The prevalence of sesame allergy is increasing in European countries. Cases of severe allergy lack any evidence of specific immunoglobulin (Ig)Es by prick tests and CAPSystem-FEIA. The reasons for this negativity are unknown.
Methods: In 32 patients displaying immediate symptoms such as anaphylactic shock, asthma, urticaria, angioedema, sesame allergy was diagnosed by double-blind placebo-controlled food challenge (DBPCFC) or convincing clinical history. However, 10 patients had negative prick tests and CapSystem-FEIA. The specificity of IgEs was further investigated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), isoelectrofocalisation (IEF)-blotting, and sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) blotting using total sesame extracts and purified fraction of oil bodies. Monospecific rabbit antibodies directed to two oleosin isoforms (15 and 17 kDa) were used.
Results: By ELISA, white sesame seed extract allowed the detection of higher levels of IgE than brown sesame extract. In all sera, numerous bands binding IgEs were detected by IEF or SDS-PAGE. In reducing conditions, two bands (15–17 kDa), could be separated from 2S albumin. Oleosins, present in oil bodies fractions, were recognized by IgEs from all sera.
Conclusion: Oleosins are major allergens of sesame seeds and may be relevant to severe anaphylaxis. Falsely negative prick tests could be due to the lack of oleosins in presently available extracts, or to the fact that epitopes might be buried in the inner molecule. Detection tests currently used to identify sesame allergens based on sesame vicillins or other storage proteins could be insufficient for the detection of sesame seed contamination. Oleosins have been named Ses i 4 (17 kDa) and Ses i 5 (15 kDa), in accordance with the IUIS Nomenclature Committee.