Key Allergens

Melons are in the Cucurbitaceae family of plants, they are usually categorised into 2 types, watermelons and muskmelons. Muskmelons have been cultivated into subtypes and include most other melons including honeydew and cantaloupe melons.

The watermelon has only 1 defined food allergen, called Citr l 1, this is a profilin protein. Reactions to watermelon are most commonly oral allergy type symptoms.

The muskmelon group of fruits contain 3 food allergens, called Cuc m 1, m 2 and m3.

Cuc m 2 is a profilin protein, similar to that of Citr l 1 in watermelon. Cuc m 1 is a plant enzyme called cucumisin.

Cuc m 3 is a common plant protein called PR-1, which protects the plant from attack. It is more commonly seen as an airway allergen in plants like peach and mugwort.

Food Intolerances

Food is high in FODMAP Food is moderate in salicylates - Watermelons

Food is low in FODMAP Food is high in salicylates - Muskmelons

Watermelon is a high FODMAP food, but melon is low FODMAP. FODMAP stands for Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. Foods high in FODMAPs can cause symptoms of food intolerance, affecting the gastro intestinal system and this can be mistaken for a true IgE food allergy.

Watermelon is moderate in salicylates, but melon is high in salicylates. Salicylates have the potential to cause gastrointestinal food intolerance symptoms in people who are sensitive to salicylates.

You can read more about Food Intolerances on the dedicated Food Intolerance Page.

Associated Syndromes

Allergy to melon is sometimes linked to Celery-Mugwort-Spice Syndrome as the sensitising allergen is a profilin protein called Art v 4, these proteins are also sometimes also called Bet v 2 proteins.

There is a link between melon and Latex Food Syndrome. 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.

Cross Reactivity

If sensitised to ragweed pollen you may also have problems with banana, melon, courgette, cucumber, and squash.

If sensitised to grass pollen you may also react to melon, potato, oranges and peanuts.

Profilins are found as food allergens in kiwi, celery, peanut, chilli, watermelon, orange, hazelnut, melon, carrot, strawberry, soya, walnut, lychee, lupin, apple, cherry, almond, peach, pear, mustard, tomato and aubergine. Other plants containing profilin inhalant allergens are ragweed, wormwood, birch, sunflower, olive, plantain, poplar and oak.

Please note that the food lists are not exhaustive, the most up to date information is on the Cross Reactivity Tool.



Allergen Encyclopedia - Watermelon

Allergen Encyclopedia - Melon

DermNet NZ - Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome

Allergy information for: Melon (Cucumis melo (Muskmelon))

Science Direct - Profilins

ACAAI - Food Allergy to Melons?

Do You Have a Cantaloupe Allergy?

Anaphylaxis Campaign - Fruit Allergies

Healthline - FODMAP Foods

ATP Science - Salicylate Foods

Articles and Journals

Food allergy outside the eight big foods in Europe: A systematic review and meta-analysis, 2024

Improving In Vitro Detection of Sensitization to Lipid Transfer Proteins: A New Molecular Multiplex IgE Assay, 2023

Prevalence and clinical features of pollen-food allergy syndrome in adults with seasonal allergic rhinitis, 2023

Anaphylaxis to watermelon seeds, 2022

Allergen Tests of Fruit Sensitization Involving Children with Allergic Diseases, 2022

Analysis of Protein Sequence Identity, Binding Sites, and 3D Structures Identifies Eight Pollen Species and Ten Fruit Species with High Risk of Cross-Reactive Allergies, 2022

Prevalence, clinical presentation, and associated atopic diseases of pediatric fruit and vegetable allergy: A population-based study, 2022

Pollen-food allergy syndrome in children, 2020

Watermelon profilin: characterization of a major allergen as a model for plant-derived food profilins, 2010

Sequence homology: a poor predictive value for profilins cross-reactivity, 2005

Novel plant pathogenesis-related protein family involved in food allergy, 2004

Identification of Cucumisin (Cuc m 1), a subtilisin-like endopeptidase, as the major allergen of melon fruit, 2003

Clinical characteristics of melon (Cucumis melo) allergy, 2003

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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