Potato allergy. That can happen - Strefa Alergii
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Potato allergy. That can happen

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It is one of the most widely consumed vegetables in our region (Europe). Most of us cannot imagine dinner without potatoes prepared in a million different ways. Interestingly, although they are one of the plants that are relatively rarely allergenic, there is a group of people with a potato allergy who cannot eat them.

Potato, also known as Solanum tuberosum

The potato is an annual crop, the cultivation of which is quite widespread. It is the 4th most important crop in the world, and is only surpassed by wheat, rice, and maize. In our diet, the potato is a source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, phosphorus, and calcium. It also contains anti-inflammatory compounds, i.e., zeaxanthin and lutein, and vitamin E, mainly as alpha-tocopherol. Particularly valuable is lutein, which protects against macular degeneration of the eye that can lead to blindness, especially in older people [1].

It is one of the vegetables that are introduced relatively early into a child’s diet, usually around 6 months of age. And it is in this age group that potato allergy is most common. In what way can the reaction show itself? There may be urticaria on the skin, the appearance, or exacerbation of atopic dermatitis. An allergic person may develop food protein-induced inflammatory bowel syndrome and anaphylactic shock. In most cases, children diagnosed with a potato allergy develop atopic eczema after eating the potato. It is also accompanied by gastrointestinal disorders, i.e. abdominal pain and diarrhoea. Studies indicate that the occurrence of symptoms in a child after eating a boiled potato may be a harbinger of a future pollen allergy [2].

 

Pollen allergy vs. potato allergy

A study conducted at the Department of Allergology of the University Hospital of Montpellier showed that people who are allergic to birch pollen are most likely to develop allergy symptoms after contact with the potato. Furthermore, it was found that if a patient has several allergies at the same time, especially to pollen, this significantly increases the likelihood of having a potato allergy [3]. The occurrence of cross-reactivity between birch and potato pollen is due to the similarity in the structure of one of the proteins. This is found both in the pollen and in the vegetable itself. It is worth noting that during the birch pollen season, there may be an increased perception of allergic symptoms after eating the potato. This protein is heat-sensitive, which means that cooking or baking significantly reduces the possibility of an allergic reaction [4].

Latex-fruit syndrome

Latex allergy most commonly affects adults and develops as a consequence of frequent contact with latex gloves. The most vulnerable occupational groups are doctors and people who have frequently undergone surgery. Interestingly, studies indicate that children with spina bifida are also at high risk of developing a latex allergy. Because of this allergy, some people may develop symptoms after contact with potatoes. This is due to the cross-reactivity of the latex protein with a protein found in the potato. This protein is partially resistant to cooking and digestion and can therefore cause allergic symptoms after consumption [5].

AD versus potato allergy

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic disease with periods of exacerbation and remission. Topical medications are used in the course of this condition. Continuous and careful care of the epidermis is also important. This prevents the appearance of further lesions and maintains the effect of topical therapy. Studies indicate that epidermal dysfunction in AD significantly increases the possibility of acquiring sensitisation via the skin. In practice, this means that an infant may react with an allergic reaction after eating food it has never eaten before because the sensitisation process was initiated by skin contact with the food allergen [6]. In the publications, one can find a case report of an 8-year-old boy with poorly controlled AD, who developed a severe food allergy to potatoes through playing with pastry at kindergarten. Quite surprising here is the fact that the child could previously eat potatoes without any restrictions. It was only the contact of the damaged skin of his hand with potato flour that initiated the development of a food allergy in him [7]. Therefore, in the course of AD, great care must be taken to treat the skin correctly and to protect it from external factors with appropriate care.

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translation: Julia Majsiak

[1] M. F. RamadanH. F. Oraby, Fatty Acids and Bioactive Lipids of Potato Cultivars: An Overview, J Oleo Sci. 2016;65(6):459-70.

[2] L. F. A. De Swert, P. Cadot, J. L. Ceuppens, Diagnosis and natural course of allergy to cooked potatoes in children, Allergy. 2007 Jul;62(7):750-7.

[3] A. M. Chiriac, J. L. Bourrain, E. Lepicard, N. Molinari, P. Demoly, Prevalence of sensitization and allergy to potato in a large population, J ALLERGY CLIN IMMUNOL PRACT MARCH/APRIL 2017

[4] ] P. M. Matricardi1, J. Kleine-Tebbe, H. J. Hoffmann, R. Valenta et all, EAACI Molecular Allergology User’s Guide, Pediatric Allergy and Immunology 2016

[5] M. H. H. Schmidt, M. Raulf-Heimsoth, A. Posch, Evaluation of patatin as a major cross-reactive allergen in latex-induced potato allergy, Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2002 Dec;89(6):613-8.

[6] S. Nedorost, M. Hammond, Art of prevention: Allergic sensitization through damaged skin: Atopic, occupational, and stasis dermatitis, Int J Womens Dermatol. 2020 Dec; 6(5): 381–383.

[7] T. Kobayashi, M. Nakamura, K. Matsunaga, J. Nakata, K. Tagami, N. Sato, T. Kawabe, Y. Kondo, Anaphylaxis due to potato starch (possibly caused by percutaneous sensitization), Asia Pac Allergy. 2021 Apr; 11(2): e14.