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Introduction: Food Allergy - A Toxicologists Point Of View
SELGRADE, M. K. Introduction: Food Allergy - A Toxicologists Point Of View. Presented at 2009 Annual Society of Toxicology (SOT) Meeting, Baltimore, MD, March 15 - 19, 2009.
This is the introduction abstract for SOT 2009.
Incorporation of new proteins into crops to promote resistance to pests and other stressors, improve nutrition, or otherwise modify phenotype is a technology that has many advantages over conventional approaches. There is concern however, that introduction of a novel protein into the food supply could include a new food allergen and pose a risk to susceptible individuals. Food allergy is an immune reaction (usually IgE mediated) to an otherwise harmless protein. Clinical signs may include rhinitis, itching, hives, or gastrointestinal symptoms, and occasionally bronchoconstriction, anaphylaxis, and death. Despite constant exposure to many antigens in food, only a small percentage of individuals experience adverse immunologic reactions. The normal response to dietary proteins is the induction of oral tolerance, a state of active inhibition of immune responses to an antigen previously encountered via the oral route. The incidence of food allergy ranges from 1-2% in adults and 6-8% in children. Relatively few foods are responsible for the majority of food-induced allergic reactions suggesting that food allergens have some unique characteristics which could facilitate hazard identification. Over the past 10 years recommendations for evaluating the potential allergenicity of transgenic proteins have evolved from a systematic decision tree to a weight of evidence approach in which no single factor is recognized as an identifier for protein allergenicity. These various recommendations are based on what is known about allergens, including: the history of exposure and safety of the gene(s) source, amino acid sequence identity to human allergens, stability to pepsin digestion in vitro, protein abundance in the crop and processing effects, and when appropriate, specific IgE binding studies or skin prick testing. Several potentially useful tool for hazard identification remain under developed including rodent model(s) for hazard identification, structure activity approaches, and serum screening. New developments in these areas show promise and deserve our attention. This abstract does not reflect EPA policy.