Gas Chromatography

What Causes Food Allergies? — Chromatography Explores

May 24 2018 Read 659 Times

Living with an allergy is a way of life for many people — more so in the developed world it seems. In fact, the UK has some of the highest allergy rates in the world — with an estimated 20% of the population affected by one allergy or another. Over 40% of adults in the UK suffer from at least one allergy with the number of sufferers increasing year on year. A recent study suggests that hospital admissions due to anaphylaxis have increased significantly in the last 20 years.

Immunity response goes haywire

Food allergy is basically a condition where your body has a reaction to the food you eat — not all the food but the food’s antigens. One of the ways that an allergic reaction occurs is due to the IgE-mediated immune mechanism. IgE is shorthand for immunoglobulin E, and they are antibodies produced by our immune system. IgE-mediated just means that the IgE antibodies are the cause of the allergic reaction to the food eaten. The allergic response usually happens very quickly.

Allergic proteins on the food are targeted and acted on by IgE antibodies. This causes the release of various cytokines and mediators that try and repel the antigens. The IgE antibodies are found on mast cells — cells that can release histamine and other substances during an allergic reaction. These mast cells are found in the skin and at barriers between mucosal and vascular systems. In some individuals, the mast cells don’t learn to differentiate between harmful and normal invaders — they become sensitised and can release IgE when innocuous substances like foods are ingested.

Analysing lipids in allergy causing foodstuffs

One of the foodstuffs that people are often allergic to are peanuts and tee nuts. The allergic reactions to these can lead to anaphylactic reactions and sometimes fatal situations. Peptides are the compounds that are often blamed for the allergic reactions — but lipids have also been shown to cause allergic reactions via a different pathway.

A recent paper in the International Journal of Multidisciplinary and Current ResearchGas Chromatography And Mass Spectrometry in Lipid Profiling of Allergy causing Food Materials — highlights the use of gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) in identifying the lipids responsible for allergic reactions. Gas chromatography is one of the best tools an analyst can have in his toolbox as discussed in the article, Gas Chromatography: A Powerful Tool for Cannabinoid Analysis.

Using GC-MS, the researchers identified phospholipids present in the various nut samples. Previous researchers have found links between the quantity of phospholipids in a species and the risk of allergenicity. However, there were experimental errors that stop too many conclusions being drawn from the study. However, the study shows that GC-MS can be used in the identification of lipids that cause allergic reactions.

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