Spelt Wheat Allergy Test
Latin name: Triticum spelta
Source material: Untreated planting seeds
Family: Poaceae (Gramineae)
Common names: Spelt, Spelt wheat
Synonyms: Triticum aestivum subsp. spelta
Spelt wheat is a food which may result in allergy symptoms in sensitised individuals.
Spelt Wheat Allergy Test: Allergen Exposure
Spelt is a species of wheat, often considered a subspecies of common wheat. It was a staple food across Europe as early as the Bronze Age, perhaps due to its hardiness and resistance to colder climates, but now has mostly been supplanted as a staple crop by common wheat.
Today, spelt is most commonly consumed specifically as a health food, having been marketed as safer for wheat-allergic or wheat-intolerant individuals – however this claim has not been scientifically proven.
In fact, wheat-allergic patients can react as readily to spelt as they do to common wheat, and spelt is not suitable for people with coeliac disease.
Spelt may be ground into flour for wheat-like products, e.g., spelt pasta. Spelt products are available mostly from speciality stores, although spelt flour is becoming more easily available in supermarkets and from online stores.
Particularly in Germany and Austria, spelt loaves and rolls, known in German as ‘Dinkelbrot’ are widely available in bakeries as is spelt flour itself.
The unripe spelt grains can be dried and eaten, and beer can be brewed from the grains.
Spelt is distilled to make vodka in Poland, and has been distilled into gin in the Netherlands.
Spelt Wheat Allergy Test: Allergen Description
One allergen present in spelt wheat has been characterised, a lipid transfer protein.
Spelt Wheat Allergy Test: Potential Cross-Reactivity
As spelt and common wheat are from the same genus, Triticum, a high percentage of homology between the proteins of spelt and those of common wheat is expected. Therefore, cross-reactivity may be similar to that reported for wheat.
As spelt contains a lipid transfer protein, cross-reactivity with other plants containing lipid transfer proteins is possible. This is demonstrated by a report of occupational sensitisation to spelt that was associated with symptoms on ingestion of several lipid transfer protein-containing foods. In particular, the individual was unable to tolerate the cross-reactive foods peach and apricot.
Spelt Wheat Allergy Test: Clinical Experience
Unexpectedly, allergic reactions to spelt have not been commonly reported. This may be a result of spelt products not being commonly available. Reported adverse reactions are expected to increase as spelt and spelt products become increasingly more accessible.
Adverse reactions may be similar to those reported to wheat.
A case report describes an individual with a demonstrated allergy to Common Wheat who had several similar anaphylactic reactions after consuming spelt.
Occupational dermatitis was reported in a 25-year-old woman, following exposure to large amounts of spelt in her occupational setting. This was followed by generalised reactions to other foods.
Within few months after avoiding spelt and changing her occupation, her food symptoms and sensitisation disappeared, and the patient could reintroduce into the diet all foods that she previously did not tolerate, except for peach and apricot.
A lipid transfer protein in Spelt was identified as the dominant allergen and responsible for the cross-reactivity.