Detection of four distinct groups of hen egg allergens binding IgE in the sera of children with egg allergy

B. J. Walsh, D. J. Hill, P. Macoun, D. Cairns, Merlin E H Howden*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Background: There appears to be a lack of agreement in the literature on the allergenicity of hen egg proteins. This may be partly due to the use of impure proteins in some cases. Egg yolk proteins have also been largely ignored in such studies. We therefore set out to determine, using especially purified proteins, their relative allergenicity, and to observe whether there were any relationships between their potency and the sensitivity of patients to them. Methods and results: The sera of 40 patients with clinically observed hen egg hypersensitivity were tested for specific IgE binding to purified egg white and egg yolk proteins using the radioallergosorbent test (RAST). Statistical treament by correspondence analysis of the percent radioactive uptakes in the RAST to the 8 proteins demonstrated that there were four distinct groups of patients reacting in a similar way to four discrete sets of proteins. Conclusions: The first three sets of allergens consisted of egg white proteins as follows: firstly, lysozyme and ovalbumin; secondly, ovomucoid; and thirdly, ovomucin. The fourth set contained the egg white protein ovotransferrin and the egg yolk proteins apovitellenins I and VI and phosvitin. The existence of patient groups may explain why various workers have reported different allergens to be important in egg hypersensitivity. A sufficiently large number of patients must be examined so as to give a representative distribution across each group, otherwise the results may be biased towards one allergen.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-191
Number of pages9
JournalAllergologia et Immunopathologia
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2005


  • Allergens
  • Food-allergy
  • Hen egg
  • Radioallergosorbent test
  • Specific IgE
  • Statistical analysis


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