Allergy Asthma Rep. 2010 Jan;10(1):29-33.

Allergenicity of carbohydrates and their role in anaphylactic events.
Commins SP, Platts-Mills T
A.


The IgE response to pollen allergens often includes IgE antibodies specific for glycosylation motifs on the pollen proteins. These oligosaccharides are present on many different species and are known as cross-reactive carbohydrate determinants. However, IgE antibodies to plant-derived cross-reactive carbohydrate determinants seem to have only minor clinical significance and have not been related to anaphylaxis. Recently, two novel forms of anaphylaxis have become apparent in the southeastern United States: 1) reactions during the first infusion of the monoclonal antibody cetuximab and 2) adult-onset delayed anaphylaxis to red meat. Detailed investigation of serum antibodies established that in both cases, the patients had IgE antibodies specific for the mammalian oligosaccharide galactose alpha-1, 3-galactose. Identification of these cases is helpful in avoiding infusion reactions to cetuximab or recommending specific avoidance of meat derived from mammals. However, the current evidence does not fully resolve why these IgE antibodies are so common in the Southeast or why the anaphylactic or urticarial reactions to red meat are delayed.