Insights in Nutrition and Metabolism

All submissions of the EM system will be redirected to Online Manuscript Submission System. Authors are requested to submit articles directly to Online Manuscript Submission System of respective journal.
Reach Us +1 (438) 806-1701

Short Communication - Insights in Nutrition and Metabolism (2024) Volume 8, Issue 1

Allergenicity in food: Molecular triggers and immune responses.

Tadesse Park *

Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka University, Japan.

*Corresponding Author:
Tadesse Park
Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka University, Japan.
E-mail: < /dd>

Received: 01-Jan-2024, Manuscript No. AAINM-24-131734; Editor assigned: 02-Jan-2024, PreQC No AAINM-24-131734 (PQ) Reviewed:16-Jan-2024, QC No. AAINM-24-131734 Revised:22-Jan-2024, Manuscript No. AAINM-24-131734 (R); Published:26-Jan-2024, DOI:10.35841/aainm-8.1.188

Citation: Park T. Allergenicity in food: Molecular triggers and immune responses. Insights Nutr Metab. 2024;8(1):188

Visit for more related articles at Insights in Nutrition and Metabolism


Food allergy is a growing concern worldwide, affecting millions of individuals of all ages. The prevalence of food allergies has risen significantly in recent decades, leading to heightened awareness and research into the molecular triggers and immune responses underlying these allergic reactions. Understanding the intricate interplay between specific food components and the immune system is crucial for developing effective diagnostic tools, preventive measures, and therapeutic interventions [1].

Food allergens are proteins within foods that trigger an abnormal immune response in susceptible individuals. These allergens can be found in a wide variety of commonly consumed foods, including nuts, shellfish, eggs, milk, soy, and wheat. The molecular structure of allergenic proteins plays a critical role in their allergenicity. Certain protein characteristics, such as stability to digestion, resistance to heat, and structural similarity to known allergens, contribute to their ability to provoke allergic reactions [2].

The three-dimensional structure of proteins largely determines their allergenic potential. Proteins with specific structural features, such as β-sheets and α-helices, tend to be more allergenic than those lacking these motifs. Additionally, certain regions of allergenic proteins, known as epitopes, interact with immune cells, triggering the production of immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. These IgE antibodies bind to mast cells and basophils, priming them to release histamine and other inflammatory mediators upon subsequent exposure to the allergen [3].

When an individual with a food allergy ingests an allergenic food, the immune system identifies the allergen as a threat and mounts an immune response. This response involves the activation of various immune cells, including T cells, B cells, and mast cells. T cells play a central role in orchestrating the immune response by releasing cytokines that promote inflammation and recruit other immune cells to the site of allergen exposure. B cells produce IgE antibodies specific to the allergen, which bind to mast cells and basophils, sensitizing them to subsequent encounters with the allergen [4].

The pathophysiology of food allergies involves a complex cascade of immune events triggered by the ingestion of allergenic foods. Upon exposure, allergens are recognized by antigen-presenting cells, which process and present allergen-derived peptides to T cells. Activated T cells then stimulate B cells to produce allergen-specific IgE antibodies. These IgE antibodies bind to high-affinity receptors on mast cells and basophils, sensitizing them to the allergen. Upon re-exposure to the allergen, cross-linking of IgE antibodies on mast cells and basophils leads to the release of inflammatory mediators, such as histamine, prostaglandins, and leukotrienes, resulting in allergic symptoms [5].

Food allergies can manifest in a variety of clinical symptoms, ranging from mild gastrointestinal discomfort to life-threatening anaphylaxis. Common symptoms of food allergies include hives, itching, swelling, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction characterized by rapid onset and potentially life-threatening symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, drop in blood pressure, loss of consciousness, and cardiac arrest. Prompt recognition and management of anaphylaxis are essential to prevent fatal outcomes [6].

Accurate diagnosis of food allergies is crucial for implementing appropriate management strategies and avoiding potential allergen exposure. Diagnostic approaches include medical history evaluation, skin prick testing, serum-specific IgE testing, oral food challenges, and component-resolved diagnostics. Management of food allergies primarily involves allergen avoidance, education, emergency preparedness, and, in some cases, immunotherapy. Emerging therapies, such as oral immunotherapy and biologic agents targeting specific immune pathways, show promise in desensitizing individuals with food allergies and improving their quality of life [7].

Preventing food allergies remains a significant challenge, but several strategies may help reduce the risk of allergic sensitization and development of food allergies. These strategies include promoting breastfeeding, introducing allergenic foods early in infancy, maintaining a diverse diet, and minimizing exposure to environmental allergens. Ongoing research into the immunological mechanisms of food allergies, biomarkers for predicting allergic outcomes, and novel therapeutic interventions holds promise for advancing our understanding and management of this complex health issue [8].

While the molecular triggers of food allergies are well-documented, recent research has shed light on the genetic factors that contribute to allergic predisposition. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified specific genetic variants associated with an increased risk of food allergies. These variants are involved in immune regulation, epithelial barrier function, and allergic sensitization pathways. Understanding the genetic underpinnings of food allergies may lead to the development of personalized approaches to diagnosis, risk assessment, and treatment [9].

In addition to genetic predisposition, environmental factors play a significant role in the development of food allergies. Early-life exposures, such as maternal diet during pregnancy, mode of delivery, antibiotic use, and microbial diversity, influence immune system development and allergic sensitization. Environmental allergens, pollutants, and dietary factors can also modulate immune responses and exacerbate allergic symptoms. Identifying and mitigating environmental triggers may help prevent the onset or progression of food allergies in susceptible individuals [10].


Food allergens elicit aberrant immune responses in susceptible individuals, leading to a wide range of clinical manifestations. Molecular triggers, including specific protein structures and epitopes, play a crucial role in the allergenicity of food proteins. Understanding the underlying immunological mechanisms of food allergies is essential for accurate diagnosis, effective management, and development of preventive strategies. Continued research efforts aimed at unraveling the molecular basis of food allergies will ultimately improve patient care and outcomes in the field of allergy and immunology.


  1. Pfeiffer JK, Virgin HW. Transkingdom control of viral infection and immunity in the mammalian intestine. Science. 2016;351(6270):aad5872.
  2. Indexed at, Google Scholar, Cross Ref

  3. Broome SB, Lutz BJ, Cook C. Becoming the parent of a child with life-threatening food allergies. J Pediatr   2015;30(4):532-42.
  4. Indexed at, Google Scholar, Cross Ref

  5. Taylor SL, Hefle SL, Gauger BJ. Food allergies and sensitivities. Food Toxicology. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. 2000:1-36.
  6. Indexed at, Google Scholar, Cross Ref

  7. Kirmayer LJ. Reflections on embodiment. Social and cultural lives of immune systems. 2003:282-302.
  8. Indexed at, Google Scholar

  9. Walsh F. Strengthening family resilience. Guilford publications; 2015.
  10. Indexed at, Google Scholar

  11. Gill M. Precarious Kisses and Risky Interactions. Feminist Formations. 2018;30(1):184-205.
  12. Indexed at, Google Scholar

  13. Freed DL. Food allergy and food intolerance. In Diet-Related Diseases 2022 (pp. 206-237). Routledge.
  14. Indexed at, Google Scholar, Cross Ref

  15. Pascual M, Roa S. Epigenetic Approaches to Allergy Research. Springer Science & Business Media; 2013.
  16. Google Scholar

  17. Thompson NS, Valsiner J. Doesn't a dance require dancers?. Behavioral and Brain Sciences. 2002;25(5):641-2.
  18. Indexed at, Google Scholar, Cross Ref

  19. Kobayashi T, Naik S, Nagao K. Choreographing immunity in the skin epithelial barrier. Immunity. 2019;50(3):552-65.
  20. Indexed at, Google Scholar, Cross Ref

Get the App