This is a simplified description of hevein proteins – there are more resources available at the bottom of the page for further reading for those who are interested in knowing more.
What are hevein proteins?
Many plants contain hevein proteins. They are lectin like proteins which help in coagulation in plants when they are damaged. It is also referred to as pro-hevein.
Hevein is one of the major allergens associated with allergy to latex
. Chitinase proteins
are said to be 'hevein-like' proteins and as such there is a lot of cross reactivity between the two protein types for those that are especially sensitive to these allergens.
These proteins vary from species to species in how the allergenicity is changed due to heat, but most studies show many are heat resistant and will still elicit an allergic reaction after cooking or processing.
Which foods contain hevein proteins?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognises 1 hevein food allergen, which is turnip
and as a contact allergen in latex allergy.
There are additional studies showing that hevein has been identified in apricot
, chard, dill
, goji berries
, passion fruit
Cross reactivity with plants containing chitinase is important if you think you may be allergic to hevin proteins, so please visit the Chitinase page
to find out more.
What is the link between hevein proteins and latex?
The plant involved in latex allergy Hevea brasiliensis
, the rubber tree plant, has an allergen called Hev b 6 which is a hevein protein. Those very sensitised to latex may have a contact allergic reaction from foods, plants or insects containing similarly shaped proteins. This gives this protein an important role in Latex Food Syndrome
What is the link between hevein proteins and pollen food allergy syndrome?
In Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome
the most common sensitising pollen is Bet v 1
, which is an allergen from birch tree pollen. It is also sometimes referred to as a PR-10 protein (where PR means pathogenesis related).
In Latex Food Syndrome
the sensitising allergen is the hevein protein from the rubber tree plant.
The symptoms associated with this syndrome are often referred to as OAS (Oral Allergy Syndrome) as it mostly affects people who already suffer from pollen allergies and seasonal rhinitis, but also includes a lot of oral symptoms like an itchy mouth, lips, tongue and throat.
What symptoms do they cause?
Allergy to foods containing hevein proteins have a wide range of symptoms and severity including urticaria (hives or welts), angioedema (swelling under the skin), nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting or breathlessness and anaphylactic shock.
What is the importance of knowing whether a reaction is to hevein or other allergens?
Multiple allergies are becoming more common and this often leads people to impose a strict restrictive diet on themselves. This can lead to a poor diet lacking in essential nutrients and frustration over a lack of eating options. Knowing which foods are the most likely to be causing your reactions can bring more options back into your diet.
This is why food diaries continue to be an important tool in diagnosis of your allergies – noting the times reactions took place and what medications were taken are a necessary starting point for a proper diagnosis.
There is more information on food diaries HERE
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