BACKGROUND: Allergy to kiwifruit is increasingly reported across Europe. Currently, the reliability of its diagnosis by the measurement of allergen-specific IgE with extracts or by skin testing with fresh fruits is unsatisfying.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the usefulness of a component-based allergen microarray for the diagnosis of kiwifruit allergy in a large group of patients.
METHODS: With an allergen microarray, we measured specific IgE and IgG4 levels to a panel of nine kiwifruit allergens in sera of 237 individuals with kiwifruit allergy. Sera from 198 allergic patients without kiwifruit allergy served as controls. Furthermore, we determined the extent of sensitization to latex.
RESULTS: The panel of kiwifruit allergens showed a diagnostic sensitivity of 66%, a specificity of 56% and a positive predictive value of 73%. Sera from kiwifruit-allergic patients contained significantly more frequently Act d 1-specific IgE than sera from control patients. Furthermore, 51% of the positive sera contained IgE directed to a single allergen, namely Act d 1 (45%), Act d 9 (27%) or Act d 7 (13%). Within the control group, 36% sera recognized a single allergen. Out of those, 48% were positive to the cross-reactive glycoallergen Act d 7, 43% to the profilin Act d 9 and only 5% to Act d 1. Allergen-specific IgG4 levels did not differ between kiwifruit-allergic and -tolerant patients. Kiwifruit- and latex-allergic patients contained Hev b 11-specific IgE significantly more frequently than latex-allergic patients without kiwifruit allergy.
CONCLUSIONS: Act d 1 can be considered a marker allergen for genuine sensitization to kiwifruit. We demonstrated that a component-based kiwifruit allergen microarray would improve the prognostic value of in vitro diagnostic tests.