OSLO, Norway—Both lupin and Fenugreek can lead to serious cross-reactions in patients with peanut allergy, in contrast to other legumes such as soya and peas, according to new research conducted at the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science.
The most common causes of food allergy are peanuts, nuts (tree nut), soya, milk, fish, shellfish, flour and eggs, but a total of over 170 different foods have been found to result in allergic reactions. In addition, there are the allergies that arise as a result of cross reactions to other types of food. Allergenic substances that are hidden in processed foods therefore pose a particular problem for people allergic to foods.
While there are no treatments available yet for food allergies, the researchers have established two mouse models for food allergy to the legumes lupin and Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum). These models have been used to test whether legumes such as soya, peanuts, Fenugreek and lupin can trigger allergic reactions in mice that are already allergic to lupin and Fenugreek, respectively. It is important to establish good animal models for food allergies because the development of an allergic immune response depends on a complicated interaction between types of cells in several different organs.
Lupin and Fenugreek are examples of so-called “new” and “hidden” allergens which have been introduced to Norway, for instance in ready-made meals, over the last 10 to 15 years. Lupin was introduced as a supplement to wheat flour in various bakery products because of its ability to promote good baking. Fenugreek is used as an ingredient in foods such as curry, chutney and spiced tea and is well known in Asian dishes.
Packaging often does not show whether Fenugreek is an ingredient, as the consumer information merely says “spices”. Both lupin and Fenugreek can lead to serious cross-reactions in patients with peanut allergy, in contrast to other legumes such as soya and peas.
The established mice models can be used to try out new treatments, for example vaccines against food allergies. New foods that are to be released onto the market will also be able to be tested to see if they can cause allergies.