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Original Article


Basophil Activation Reveals Divergent Patient-Specific Responses to Thermally Processed Peanuts


V Sabato,1,2 AJ van Hengel,3 KJ De Knop,1 MM Verweij,1 MM Hagendorens,4 CH Bridts,1 LS De Clerck,1 D Schiavino,2 WJ Stevens,1 DG Ebo1

1Faculty of Medicine, Department of Immunology, Allergology, Rheumatology, University of Antwerp, Antwerpen, Belgium
2Faculty of Medicine, Department of Allergology, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Rome, Italy
3European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements, Geel, Belgium
4Faculty of Medicine, Department of Paediatrics, University Hospital Antwerp, University of Antwerp, Antwerpen, Belgium

J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2011; Vol. 21(7): 527-531



Introduction: The impact of processing on the allergenicity of peanut (Arachis hypogaea) proteins has traditionally been studied using immunoglobulin (Ig) E binding assay. However, as this technique does not assess the potential of an allergen to trigger basophils and mast cells, studies based on it can hardly be considered complete. We evaluated the effect of processing on peanut allergenicity using flow-cytometric quantifi cation of in vitro basophil activation (basophil activation test [BAT]).

Patients and Methods: Basophils from 10 patients with severe peanut allergy and 3 peanut-tolerant individuals were stimulated with extracts from 5 raw and thermally processed peanut varieties. Data were compared using protein staining (sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis [SDS-PAGE]) and IgE immunoblotting.

Results: Stimulation with different extracts resulted in patient-dependent and variety-dependent effects on basophil activation. SDS-PAGE revealed a considerable loss of identifiable bands, especially for the South Africa Common Natal, Argentina Runner, and US Virginia varieties. The results of IgE immunoblotting in patients were similar, irrespective of the responses observed in the BAT.

Conclusions: The impact of thermal processing on the capacity of peanuts to trigger basophils seems highly divergent between patients and cannot be predicted using SDS-PAGE or IgE binding. BAT can be considered a complementary tool for the evaluation of food allergenicity.

Key words: Peanut allergy. Peanut processing. Basophil activation test. Allergy diagnosis.