Mechanisms underlying differential food allergy response to heated egg

Gustavo Martos, Ivan Lopez-Exposito, Ramon Bencharitiwong, M. Cecilia Berin, Anna Nowak-Wȩgrzyn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations


Background: Egg white proteins are usually subjected to heating, making them edible for the majority of children with egg allergy. Objective: We sought to investigate the underlying mechanisms responsible for the reduced allergenicity displayed by heat-treated egg white allergens. Methods: C3H/HeJ mice were orally sensitized with ovalbumin (OVA) or ovomucoid and challenged with native or heated proteins to evaluate their allergenicity. Immunoreactivity was assessed by immunoblotting using sera from children with egg allergy. In vitro gastrointestinal digestion of native and heated OVA and ovomucoid was studied by SDS-PAGE and liquid chromatography. Intestinal uptake of intact native and heated OVA and ovomucoid by human intestinal epithelial (Caco-2) cells was investigated. Rat basophil leukemia cells passively sensitized with mouse serum and human basophils passively sensitized with serum from children with egg allergy were used to assess the effector cell activation by heated, digested, and transported OVA and ovomucoid. Results: Heated OVA and ovomucoid did not induce symptoms of anaphylaxis in sensitized mice when administered orally. Heating did not completely destroy IgE-binding capacity of OVA or ovomucoid but enhanced in vitro digestibility of OVA. Digestion of both OVA and ovomucoid diminished mediator release in rat basophil leukemia assay and basophil activation. Heating of allergens prevented transport across human intestinal epithelial cells in a form capable of triggering basophil activation or T-cell activation. Conclusion: Heat treatment reduces allergenicity of OVA and ovomucoid. This is partially a result of the enhanced gastrointestinal digestibility of heated OVA and the inability of heated OVA or ovomucoid to be absorbed in a form capable of triggering basophils.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)990-997.e2
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Egg allergy
  • anaphylaxis
  • antigen absorption
  • basophil activation
  • gastrointestinal digestion
  • heat treatment
  • heating
  • mice oral sensitization
  • ovalbumin
  • ovomucoid
  • passive sensitization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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