Facts about peanut allergens

Facts about peanut allergens
Allergy is an immune response of a person who is highly sensitive to foreign substances. Among different types of allergies, food allergy is a common type, which is an adverse effect of immune response to a food protein. Some of the foods which are responsible for food allergies are cow's milk, peanuts, eggs, soy, wheat, tree nuts, such as walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans and pistachios, fish and shellfish. Among these most common food allergens, peanut is of special type. It is basically a legume which contains essential proteins. However, certain proteins in peanuts like Ara h1, Ara h2, Ara h3, etc. have been identified to confer severe food related allergic reactions and are collectively called as peanut allergens.

Peanut allergy commonly occurs in children. 4% to 8% of the food allergic incidents are due to peanut and this happens in children due to incomplete development of immune and digestive system; this also occurs in adults between 1% to 2%. In high immune sensitive people, even a small quantity can induce an allergic reaction.

Usually proteins are broken down in the digestive process. However, the allergic proteins or their fragments escape digestion by their resistant nature. These undigested fragments in turn get tagged by IgE antibody which causes the allergic responses. People who are allergic to peanuts may have a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis and this allergic reaction occurs when the immune system overreacts and releases histamine into the blood. This can affect different tissues in the body, such as skin, eyes, nose, airways, intestinal tract, lungs and blood vessels; and this can be treated with antihistamine.

People who suffer from severe peanut allergic reactions can also be treated using the most effective drug epinephrine. Epinephrine given as injection constricts the blood vessels and slows down the immune response to the allergens. If this allergy is not treated, it may lead to severe health complications.
How to cite this article:
Poorani Venkatachalapathy. Facts about peanut allergens. BioLim O-Media. 20 August, 2014. 2(6).
Available from: http://archive.biolim.org/omedia/read/BOMA0059.