Edible insects are important sources of nutrition, particularly in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Recently, edible insects have gained considerable interest as a possible solution to global exhaustion
of the food supply with population growth. However, little attention has been given to the adverse reactions
caused by insect consumption. Here, we provide an overview of the food allergens in edible insects
and offer insights for further studies. Most of the edible insect allergens identified to date are highly
cross-reactive invertebrate pan-allergens such as tropomyosin and arginine kinase. Allergic reactions to
these allergens may be cross-reactions resulting from sensitization to shellfish and/or house dust mites.
No unique insect allergen specifically eliciting a food allergy has been described. Many of the edible
insect allergens described thus far have counterpart allergens in cockroaches, which are an important
cause of respiratory allergies, but it is questionable whether inhalant allergens can cause food allergies.
Greater effort is needed to characterize the allergens that are unique to edible insects so that safe edible
insects can be developed. The changes in insect proteins upon food processing or cooking should also be
examined to enhance our understanding of edible insect food allergies.
Keywords: Food allergen, cross-reactivity, edible insects, component-resolved diagnosis, chitin, CCDs, CDR.
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