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Profilin Proteins

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, peanut, soyabeans, walnut, lupin, almonds, mustard and hazelnut all contain profilin proteins.

Fruits and vegetables containing these proteins are kiwi, pineapple, chilli, melon, orange, strawberry, lychee, apple, banana, aubergine (eggplant), peach, pear, tomato, dates, cherry and carrot.

Profilin proteins are also found in barley, sorghum and wheat.

You can download a Profilin Protein Factsheet from the Allergy Resources Ko-fi Shop for just $0.50 (£0.40 or €0.45). This has up to date information on which foods contain Profilin Proteins.

Note that the food lists on this page are not exhaustive, the most up to date information is on the Cross Reactivity Tool.

Which pollens contain profilin proteins?

There are 24 pollen allergens associated with profilin proteins including pigweeds, ragweed, mugwort, sugar beet, birch trees, hemp, crocus, grass pollen, sunflower, olive, rice, 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 is the link between profilin proteins and pollen food allergy syndrome?

In Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome the most common sensitising pollen is Bet v 1, which is an allergen from birch tree pollen. It is also sometimes referred to as a PR-10 protein (where PR means pathogenesis related).

In Celery-Mugwort-Spice Syndrome the sensitising allergen is a profilin protein called Art v 4, sometimes also called Bet v 2 like protein.

The symptoms associated with this syndrome are often referred to as OAS (Oral Allergy Syndrome) as it mostly affects people who already suffer from pollen allergies and seasonal rhinitis, but also includes a lot of oral symptoms like an itchy mouth, lips, tongue and throat.

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.


Science Direct - Profilins

Allergen Encyclopedia - Latex Profilin

Articles and Journals

Diagnosis and Management of Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome to Nuts, 2024

Not Just a Banana: The Extent of Fruit Cross-Reactivity and Reaction Severity in Adults with Banana Allergy, 2023

Food Allergens of Plant Origin, 2023

Molecular allergy diagnosis is sensitive and avoids misdiagnosis in patients sensitized to seasonal allergens, 2023

High pan-allergen content in mango and peach in Taiwan, 2023

An Overview of Fruit Allergens: Structural, Functional, Phylogenetical, and Clinical Aspects, 2023

Clinical Relevance of Profilin Sensitization Concerning Oral Allergy Syndrome in Birch Pollen Sensitized Patients, 2022

Profilin-mediated food-induced allergic reactions are associated with oral epithelial remodeling, 2019

Profilin is a marker of severity in allergic respiratory diseases, 2019

Misleading Allergens in the Diagnosis of Latex Allergy: Profilin and Cross-Reactive Carbohydrate Determinants, 2018

How relevant is panallergen sensitization in the development of allergies?, 2016

Could Profilin Be a ‘Canary in a Coal Mine' of the Increasing Allergy Epidemic?, 2015

Profilin as a severe food allergen in allergic patients overexposed to grass pollen, 2014

Profilins: mimickers of allergy or relevant allergens? 2011

Panallergens and their impact on the allergic patient, 2010

Structure and functions of profilins, 2009

Profilin sensitization detected in the office by skin prick test: a study of prevalence and clinical relevance of profilin as a plant food allergen, 2008

Pollen-related allergy to peach and apple: An important role for profilin, 1995

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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