Key Allergens

There are lots of families of cockroaches, the ones that are flagged by the World Health Organization (WHO) are the German cockroach which are in the Ectobiidae family of insects and the American cockroach which is in the Blattidae family of animals.

The main sources of cockroach allergens are cockroach saliva, faeces, eggs and shed skins.

Between them they have 24 allergens associated with them, the most well known being tropomyosin, an allergen found in fish, molluscs, crustaceans, dust mites and other insects and chitinase proteins which are found in both insects and some plants. They also have lipocalin allergens, which are proteins more commonly associated with furry animal allergies, like cats, dogs and horses.

Enolase proteins were added to the WHO Allergen Nomenclature list of allergens for cockroaches in 2022. These are common inhalant proteins found in other animals and some plants.

As all the allergens associated with cockroaches are inhalant, the symptoms of an allergy to cockroaches would most likley be sneezing, wheezing, irritation of the nose, mouth and throat and in some cases worsening of asthma symptoms. The best approach to reduce symptoms of allergy to cockroaches is to attempt to eradicate them from your living spaces.

Associated Syndromes

Allergy to cockroachs is strongly associated with allergic rhinitis as well as asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis and atopic dermatitis.

Some species of cockroachs contain chitinase, which is a protein often linked to Latex Allergy.

Cross Reactivity

Tropomyosin is both a food allergen and an airway allergen. In cockroaches the protein is an airway allergen. Other animals which contain this allergen include mosquito, storage mites, termites, dustmites and silverfish.

Tropomyosin as a food allergen is found in crab, shrimp, oysters, abalone, snails, lobsters, prawns, tilapia, catfish, crab, Atlantic salmon and squid.

Cockroaches also contain chitinase proteins which can cause an inhalant reaction. Foods containing chitinase include corn, avocado, banana, pomegranate, mango, coffee and chestnuts.

Enolase proteins are also found in fungus and moulds, cod, salmon, tuna, catfish, chicken and also in plants, latex, wormwood, grasses and ragweed.



DermNetNZ - Aeroallergens and the skin

Allergen Encyclopedia - American Cockroach

Allergen Encyclopedia - German Cockroach

Science Direct - Cockroach

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America - Cockroaches

Articles and Journals

Extraction, Purification, and Development of Sublingual Film (SLIT Films) Comprising Cockroach Allergen for Treatment of Allergy, 2023

Analysis of common allergens affecting patients with allergic rhinitis , 2023

Reported Cases and Diagnostics of Occupational Insect Allergy: A Systematic Review, 2023

Sensitization to house dust mite and cockroach may mediate the racial difference in shellfish allergy, 2022

Part II: Insect allergies—Inhalation and ingestion, 2022

IgE and T Cell Reactivity to a Comprehensive Panel of Cockroach Allergens in Relation to Disease, 2021

Respiratory sensitization to insect allergens: Species, components and clinical symptoms, 2021

Cockroach allergens: Coping with challenging complexity, 2019

Cockroach allergens and asthma in Brazil: Identification of tropomyosin as a major allergen with potential cross-reactivity with mite and shrimp allergens, 1999

The Role of Cockroach Allergy and Exposure to Cockroach Allergen in Causing Morbidity among Inner-City Children with Asthma, 1997

Let me know if you found any of these interesting or useful. If you spot an article or research that you think is interesting you can message me or tag me on Facebook or Twitter - links at the bottom of the page.

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