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Investigating Novel Food Sensitization: A Real-Life Prevalence Study of Cricket, Locust, and Mealworm IgE-Reactivity in Naïve allergic Individuals

Scala E1, Abeni D2, Villella V1, ViIlalta D3, Cecchi L4, Caprini E1, Asero R5

1Clinical and Laboratory Molecular Allergy Unit, IDI-IRCCS, Rome, Italy
2Clinical Epidemiology Unit, IDI-IRCCS, Rome, Italy
3S.C. di Immunologia e Allergologia di Laboratorio, PO S. Maria degli Angeli, Pordenone, Italia
4SOSD Allergology and Clinical Immunology, USL Toscana Centro, Prato, Italy
5Ambulatorio di Allergologia, Clinica San Carlo, Paderno Dugnano, Milan, Italy

J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2025; Vol. 35(3)
doi: 10.18176/jiaci.0986

Background | With the global population on the rise, edible insects are considered a potential solution to food security, although concerns about risks such as anaphylaxis exist.
Methods | 2,014 participants underwent testing with the Allergy Explorer-ALEX-2 including extracts of three novel foods: Acheta Domesticus (Ad), Locusta migratoria (Lm), and Tenebrio molitor (Tm). The IgE-mediated sensitization status was investigated in participants who had never knowingly consumed these insects. Data was recorded using an electronic database.
Results | 195 individuals (9.7% of all participants) were sensitized to insects. Tropomyosin was co-recognized by 34%, and 18.5% were positive for arginine kinases. Reactivity to Sarcoplasmic-CB, Troponin-C, Paramyosin, or Myosin-light-chain was found in less than 5% of the population, whereas 108 individuals (55.4%) did not show any reactivity to invertebrate panallergens. Additionally, 33 individuals (16.9%) exhibited monosensitization exclusively to insects. Multivariate analysis revealed an inverse association between arachnid reactivity and sensitization to insect allergens, while Mollusca, Blattoidea, and tropomyosin reactivity displayed a direct relationship. Furthermore, Myosin-light-chain reactivity correlated with Ad and Lm, and Troponin-C with Ad and Tm sensitization.
Conclusion | Edible insect extract IgE sensitization was observed in individuals without prior exposure to such foods. Mites showed a low likelihood of being primary sensitizers due to their inverse association with insect reactivity. Conversely, the direct association of insect sensitization with mollusk and cockroach extract reactivity suggests their potential as primary sensitizers in these participants. Tropomyosin consistently exhibited a positive association with reactivity to all studied insects, supporting its role as a primary sensitizer.

Key words: Edible insects, Novel foods, Acheta Domesticus, Locusta migratoria, Tenebrio molitor, IgE-mediated sensitization, Tropomyosin, Arginine kinases