12 January - 20 June 2016

Heating peanuts could reduce their allergenic effect

23 April 2015

Peanut allergy is a relatively common and often serious condition which has shown a significant increase in the number of sufferers over recent years. Limited exposure to peanuts for some patients can cause a serious allergic response resulting in anaphylaxis which in severe cases can be fatal.

The allergenic response is due to the binding of the antibody Immunoglobin E (IgE) to Fc receptors in the Mast Cells and Basophils on the surface of these cells triggering a severe immune response from the body. 

Previous studies have shown that processing of peanuts, especially roasting, can have an impact on the immune response of the body. In a further study carried out by a team of German and Spanish allergy researchers published in the journal Food Chemistry, this effect has been further examined.

For the study, raw, roasted and fried peanuts were processed by autoclaving at either 121°C for 15 or 30 minutes and at 138°C for 15 or 30 minutes. Additionally raw peanuts were also boiled for 1h. The different preparations of prepared peanuts were then tested to show interactions with Fc receptors in-vitro. The fried and roasted peanuts that were not autoclaved were shown to trigger a stronger immune response than the raw peanuts themselves. For the samples that were autoclaved a definite reduction in immune response was seen with an increase in temperature and time of treatment.

Alongside this study, a skin-prick test was also carried out on 7 patients. Extracts of the different treatments of peanuts were tested and the diameter of the inflamed area around the test area measured. Again in this case the allergic response from the peanuts treated at the higher temperature and pressure was diminished, with no significant swelling observed from the highest temperature and pressure treated nut.

The study shows that treatment and high temperature and high pressure can give rise to a significant decrease in allergic response due to a modification of the IgE antibodies under these conditions.

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