This is a simplified description of profilin proteins – there are more resources available at the bottom of the page for further reading for those who are interested in knowing more.
What are profilin proteins?
Many plant and animal tissues contain profilin proteins. They are small proteins involved in the assembly of actin filaments. Actin filaments in plants determine the shape and movement of the cell’s surface.
Profilin proteins are considered to be minor panallergens. They are less commonly associated with allergy than lipid transfer proteins
and seed storage proteins
, but have become more studied in recent years due to the possibility of cross reactivity.
These proteins vary from species to species in how the allergenicity is changed due to heat, but most studies show many are heat resistant and will still elicit an allergic reaction after cooking or processing.
Which foods contain profilin proteins?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognises 53 profilin allergens 27 of these are categorised as food allergens where profilins have been identified as causing allergic reactions after consumption of food.
In the top 14 foods, celery
all contain profilin proteins.
Fruits and vegetables containing these proteins are kiwi
, aubergine (eggplant)
Profilin proteins are also found in barley
Which pollens contain profilin proteins?
There are 24 pollen allergens associated with profilin proteins including pigweeds, ragweed
, sugar beet, birch trees
, crocus, grass pollen
, plantain, poplar, mesquite, oak and maize.
What is the link between profilin proteins and latex?
The plant involved in latex allergy Hevea brasiliensis
, the rubber tree plant, has an allergen called Hev b 8 which is a profilin protein. Those very sensitised to latex may have a contact allergic reaction from other foods or plants containing profilin proteins, there is less evidence of this than sensitisation to other latex linked proteins like hevein and chitinases, but it still has an important role in Latex Food Syndrome
What symptoms do they cause?
Allergy to foods containing profilin proteins have a wide range of symptoms and severity including urticaria (hives or welts), angioedema (swelling under the skin), nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting or breathlessness and anaphylactic shock.
What is the importance of knowing whether a reaction is to profilin or other allergens?
Multiple allergies are becoming more common and this often leads people to impose a strict restrictive diet on themselves. This can lead to a poor diet lacking in essential nutrients and frustration over a lack of eating options. Knowing which foods are the most likely to be causing your reactions can bring more options back into your diet.
This is why food diaries continue to be an important tool in diagnosis of your allergies – noting the times reactions took place and what medications were taken are a necessary starting point for a proper diagnosis.
There is more information on food diaries HERE
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