Likely allergy reactions warned on the label of a can of tuna. (Photo: Stock File)
Fish-specific allergies identified
Friday, December 13, 2013, 04:30 (GMT + 9)
New studies have revealed that being allergic to a certain fish like Nile perch (Lates niloticus) does not mean the person is also allergic to another food fish such as Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua).
This is one of the conclusions drawn by a group of scientists from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), the University of Leipzig and the Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen, who published the results of research providing insight into fish allergies in the Journal of Investigational Allergology and Clinical Immunology (JIACI).
In this paper, researchers pointed out that “species-specific allergens were identified that may help to improve avoidance strategies against such food allergies and make them more specific.”
The most common allergen in fish and crustaceans is parvalbumin, a calcium-binding protein. And according to these scientists, it is likely that other substances that trigger allergies have been overlooked because they are overshadowed by the more frequent parvalbumin and have therefore been underestimated until now.
“The tests that are currently used are very non-specific. For some people who suffer from fish allergies there may be hope of finding a fish that they can tolerate if we managed to make the relevant tests suitable for mass implementation and use them in allergy diagnostics”, says Dr Janina Tomm from the UFZ, who specialises in research into proteins.
The benefits of these findings are significant because fish is one of the most important foods worldwide and as it is considered healthy it is therefore consumed in increasing amounts. In the industrialised countries it has been estimated that around 28 kilograms of fish is now consumed per capita per year, and the trend is on the increase.
The allergy studies are part of the Leipzig Research Center for Civilization Diseases (LIFE), a major research project of the faculty of medicine at the University of Leipzig, which is part of the federal excellence initiative of the Free State of Saxony in collaboration with various partners such as the UFZ.