Asia Pac Allergy 2015 Jan 28;5(1):17-24. Epub 2015 Jan 28.
Department of Paediatrics, Khoo Teck Puat National Children's Medical Institute, National University Hospital, Singapore 119228, Singapore. ; Department of Paediatrics, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore 119077, Singapore.
The literature supports the notion that carbohydrate epitopes, on their own, do not contribute significantly to the induction of allergic reactions. They bind weakly to IgE antibodies and have been termed as cross reactive carbohydrate determinants. These epitopes cause confusion in in vitro IgE testing through nonspecific cross-reactivity. Coincident with the rising trends in food allergy prevalence, there has recently been reports of anaphylaxis induced by carbohydrate epitopes. There are two distinct groups, each with unique characteristics and geographical distribution. Anaphylaxis and acute allergic reactions related to the carbohydrate galactose-α-1,3-galactose (α-Gal) epitope that are present in the monoclonal antibody, cetuximab and red meat have been described in the United States and Europe populations where tick bites have been found to be the primary sensitizer. Another carbohydrate inducing anaphylaxis is galacto-oligosaccharides in commercial milk formula which has been described in the several Asian populations including Singapore. The latter is unique in that the allergen is a pure carbohydrate. We summarize the current literature on carbohydrate-induced food allergy, and evaluate the two new groups of carbohydrate allergy that have defied previous findings on carbohydrates and their role.