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Original Article


Barnacle allergy: allergen characterization and cross-reactivity with mites


S. Marinho1, M. Morais-Almeida1, Â. Gaspar1, C. Santa-Marta1, G. Pires1, I. Postigo2, J. Guisantes2, J. Martínez2,3, J. Rosado-Pinto1

1Immunoallergy Department, Dona Estefânia Hospital, Lisbon, Portugal
2 Department of Immunology, Microbiology and Parasitology, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of the Basque Country, Vitoria, Spain
3 Sweden Diagnostics Spain SL, Laboratorio de Aplicaciones, Barcelona, Spain

J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2006; Vol. 16(2): 117-122



Background: Barnacles are a type of seafood with worldwide distribution and abundant along the shores of temperate seas. They are particularly appreciated and regularly consumed in Portugal as well as in Spain, France and South America, but barnacle allergy is a rare condition of which there is only one reference in
the indexed literature. The molecular allergens and possible cross-reactivity phenomena implicated (namely with mites) have not been established.

Objective: To demonstrate the IgE-mediated allergy to barnacle and to identify the proteins implicated as well as possible cross-reactivity phenomena with mites.

Methods: We report the clinical and laboratory data of five patients with documented IgE-mediated allergy to barnacle. The diagnosis was based on a suggestive clinical history combined with positive skin prick tests (SPT) to barnacle – prick to prick method. Two barnacle extracts were prepared (raw and cooked barnacle) and sodium dodecylsulphate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) and IgE-immunoblotting were performed. An immunoblotting inhibition assay with Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus was also done in order to evaluate cross-reactivity.

Results: All patients had mite-related asthma and the allergic rhinoconjunctivitis; they all experienced mucocutaneous symptoms. All of them had positive SPT to barnacle, and the immunoblotting showed several allergenic fractions with a wide molecular weight range (19 – 94 kDa). The D. pteronyssinus extract inhibited several IgE-binding protein fractions in the barnacle extract.

Conclusions: We describe five patients with IgE-mediated barnacle allergy. We also describe a group of IgEbinding+ proteins between 30 and 75 kDa as the allergenic fractions of this type of Crustacea. Cross-reactivity  with D. pteronyssinus was demonstrated in two cases.

Key words: food allergy, barnacle, cross-reactivity, Crustacea, mites, Pollicipes pollicipes.