Recent reports suggest that hydrolyzed wheat protein (HWP) variants such as Glupearl® 19S (GP19S) induce immediate-type hypersensitivity via epicutaneous (EC) sensitization. The identification of strong allergens is a key step in product assessment before commercial launch. However, few reports have described the estimation of actual and potential anaphylactic sensitizing capacity. In this study we assessed the strength of both the actual and potential anaphylactic sensitizing capacity by investigating the immediate-type hypersensitivity inducing potential of HWP compared with gluten. We assessed these strengths via the EC route using an EC or intradermal (ID) sensitization method. We quantified the strength of immediate-type hypersensitivity by evaluating the titer of serum antibodies isolated from sensitized subjects using passive cutaneous anaphylaxis (PCA) reactions. We also evaluated the cross-reactivity between GP19S and gluten. GP19S and gluten applied by both the sensitization methods induced obvious IgG1-mediated PCA reactions. GP19S had stronger sensitizing potential than gluten, according to the serum titers and dye spot diameters. The difference in antibody titers between GP19S and gluten was 16-fold for the EC method versus 2-fold for the ID method. GP19S cross-reacted with gluten. Acid hydrolysis of gluten increased anaphylactic sensitizing capacity in the EC method. To our knowledge, our study is the first to quantitatively confirm that HWP and gluten can induce immediate-type hypersensitivity through an intact skin. These findings suggest that acid-HWP imposes a higher risk of EC sensitization than gluten because of the ease with which the former confers a sensitizing effect through the intact skin.
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