Shellfish Tropomyosin IgE Cross-Reactivity Differs Among Edible Insect Species

Lee K. Palmer, Justin T. Marsh, Mei Lu, Richard E. Goodman, Michael G. Zeece, Philip E. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Scope: Insects are a potentially environmentally friendly alternative dietary protein source to supplement mammalian and fish sources, but potential allergenic risks are a concern. Consumption of insects may result in anaphylaxis and has been implicated in cross-reactivity with shellfish. Many allergenic proteins may be involved in cross-reactivity, including tropomyosin (TM). The uniformity of TM cross-reactivity among edible insects is unknown. Candidate edible insects for variability in shellfish IgE cross-reactivity are investigated. Methods and results: Selected insects and known related sources of allergens are extracted and probed by immunoblot with sera/plasma from patients sensitized to insects or shellfish. Quantification of TM in these extracts is performed using mass spectrometry. A comparison of the quantity of TM and the IgE reactivity of TM from these insects is performed. Distinct patterns of IgE cross-reactivity are observed with three insect species showing diminished reactivity. This pattern is not consistent with the amount of TM present in these insects, or with overall sequence homology. Conclusion: Insects display a diversity of TM-associated IgE reactivity. It is likely that minor sequence features and/or structural effects are primarily responsible. Additionally, it is demonstrated that some insect species may present significantly less IgE cross-reactivity to shrimp than do others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1900923
JournalMolecular Nutrition and Food Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • allergens
  • allergies
  • cross-reactivity
  • insects
  • shellfish
  • tropomyosin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science


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