Effect of thermal processing on T cell reactivity of shellfish allergens - Discordance with IgE reactivity

Jodie B. Abramovitch, Andreas L. Lopata, Robyn E. O'Hehir, Jennifer M. Rolland

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Crustacean allergy is a major cause of food-induced anaphylaxis. We showed previously that heating increases IgE reactivity of crustacean allergens. Here we investigate the effects of thermal processing of crustacean extracts on cellular immune reactivity. Raw and cooked black tiger prawn, banana prawn, mud crab and blue swimmer crab extracts were prepared and IgE reactivity assessed by ELISA. Mass spectrometry revealed a mix of several allergens in the raw mud crab extract but predominant heat-stable tropomyosin in the cooked extract. PBMC from crustacean-allergic and non-atopic control subjects were cultured with the crab and prawn extracts and proliferation of lymphocyte subsets was analysed by CFSE labelling and flow cytometry. Effector responses were assessed by intracellular IL-4 and IFN-γ, and regulatory T (CD4+ CD25+ CD127lo Foxp3+ ) cell proportions in cultures were also compared by flow cytometry. For each crustacean species, the cooked extract had greater IgE reactivity than the raw (mud crab p<0.05, other species p<0.01). In contrast, there was a trend for lower PBMC proliferative responses to cooked compared with raw extracts. In crustacean-stimulated PBMC cultures, dividing CD4+ and CD56+ lymphocytes showed higher IL-4+ /IFN-aγ;+ ratios for crustacean-allergic subjects than for non-atopics (p<0.01), but there was no significant difference between raw and cooked extracts. The percentage IL-4+ of dividing CD4+ cells correlated with total and allergen-specific IgE levels (prawns p<0.01, crabs p<0.05). Regulatory T cell proportions were lower in cultures stimulated with cooked compared with raw extracts (mud crab p<0.001, banana prawn p<0.05). In conclusion, cooking did not substantially alter overall T cell proliferative or cytokine reactivity of crustacean extracts, but decreased induction of Tregs. In contrast, IgE reactivity of cooked extracts was increased markedly. These novel findings have important implications for improved diagnostics, managing crustacean allergy and development of future therapeutics. Assessment of individual allergen T cell reactivity is required.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0173549
Number of pages18
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017

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