Background: Three main problems hamper the identification of wheat food allergens: (1) lack of a standardized procedure for extracting all of the wheat protein fractions; (2) absence of double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenge studies that compare the allergenic profile of Osborne’s three protein fractions in subjects with real wheat allergy, and (3) lack of data on the differences in IgE-binding capacity between raw and cooked wheat. Methods: Sera of 16 wheat-challenge-positive patients and 6 patients with wheat anaphylaxis, recruited from Italy, Denmark and Switzerland, were used for sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis/immunoblotting of the three Osborne’s protein fractions (albumin/globulin, gliadins and glutenins) of raw and cooked wheat. Thermal sensitivity of wheat lipid transfer protein (LTP) was investigated by spectroscopic approaches. IgE cross-reactivity between wheat and grass pollen was studied by blot inhibition. Results: The most important wheat allergens were the α-amylase/trypsin inhibitor subunits, which were present in all three protein fractions of raw and cooked wheat. Other important allergens were a 9-kDa LTP in the albumin/globulin fraction and several low-molecular-weight (LMW) glutenin subunits in the gluten fraction. All these allergens showed heat resistance and lack of cross-reactivity to grass pollen allergens. LTP was a major allergen only in Italian patients. Conclusions: The α-amylase inhibitor was confirmed to be the most important wheat allergen in food allergy and to play a role in wheat-dependent exercise-induced anaphylaxis, too. Other important allergens were LTP and the LMW glutenin subunits.

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