Asparagus Allergy Test


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Asparagus Allergy Test

Code: f261
Latin name: Asparagus officinalis
Source material: Frozen stem
Family: Alliaceae (Liliaceae)

Asparagus is a food which may result in allergy symptoms in sensitised individuals.

Asparagus Allergy Test: Allergen Exposure

Asparagus is native to the marshes of southwest Europe and may be found wild on the seacoast in southwest England. In the southern parts of Russia and Poland the waste steppes are covered with this plant. It is also common as a wild plant in Greece. Otherwise, it is found in cultivated beds.

There are 2 main varieties of Asparagus, the tougher green one, and the more tender white one, which is preferred in Europe and grown in shade or underground to keep it from producing chlorophyll.

Asparagus is available fresh, canned or frozen and is often served as a side dish after being steamed or briefly boiled. The tough base of the stem is usually removed before cooking, and sometimes the plant is peeled as well.

Asparagus is well known as a diuretic and laxative and has been used to treat gravel and dropsy. It has been a folk remedy for eye ailments, toothache, cramps, convulsions, and sciatica.

Asparagus Allergy Test: Allergen Description

Several allergens present in asparagus have been characterised, including a lipid transfer protein, a profilin and a Bet v 1 homologue.

An allergen has been detected that may be a plant growth inhibitor, and this substance, present in young shoots, and identified as a sulfur-containing growth inhibitor in one study, was shown to be a first contact allergen from asparagus.

Asparagus Allergy Test: Potential Cross-Reactivity

An extensive cross-reactivity among the different individual species of the genus could be expected, as well as to a certain degree among other members of the family Alliaceae, such as onion, leek, garlic, and chives.

Cross-reactivity can be expected with other foods or plants containing profilin, a Bet v 1 homologue allergen, or lipid transfer proteins.

Asparagus Allergy Test: Clinical Experience

In sensitised individuals, asparagus can induce symptoms of food allergy through ingestion, respiratory symptoms through inhalation, or cutaneous allergy through skin contact.

Occupational contact dermatitis, contact urticaria, rhinoconjunctivitis and asthma have been reported.

Most reports of allergic reactions to asparagus are from occupational settings. Anaphylaxis is the most common clinical picture of food allergy, while contact urticaria, rhinitis and asthma, appearing either isolated or associated, are typical clinical pictures of occupational allergy. Sensitisation to different allergens is the likely cause of the different reactions to asparagus.

In a study assessing the role of lipid transfer proteins in asparagus allergy, 18 patients with allergy to asparagus were enrolled. Asparagus allergy resulted in symptoms of asthma in 7, anaphylaxis in 1, rhinoconjunctivis in 1, oral allergy syndrome in 1, contact urticaria in 6, and contact dermatitis in 2. Three patients had a combination of two symptoms.

Conjunctivitis, rhinitis, tightness of the throat and coughing during preparation of fresh asparagus have been reported in 2 individuals. No symptoms occurred while the individuals were eating the cooked food. The authors suggest that the allergen was inhaled.

Acute urticaria after ingestion of asparagus has been reported.

Other reactions

Allergic contact dermatitis and contact urticaria have been caused by asparagus. A 53-year-old farm worker presented with a 3-year history of occupational allergic contact dermatitis to asparagus.