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Key Allergens

Lychee (also called litchi) is a fruit which only contains one allergenic protein called Lit c 1, it is a profilin protein and is found in significant quantities in the plant.

Lychees are in the Sapindaceae family of plants. Other plants in this family include maple trees and horse chestnuts.

Profilin proteins are involved in the assembly of actin filaments which in plants determine the shape and movement of the cell’s surface.

Profilin proteins are considered to be minor panallergens. They are less commonly associated with allergy than other panallergens, but have become more studied in recent years due to the possibility of cross reactivity.

Food Intolerances

Food is low in histamine Food is medium in salicylates

Lychee is low in histamine, so is suitable to eat if following a low histamine diet.

Lychee is a food moderate in salicylates. Salicylates have the potential to cause worsening of asthma, swelling, itching and hives as well as food intolerance symptoms in people who are sensitive to salicylates.

You can read more about Food Intolerances on the dedicated Food Intolerance Page.

Associated Syndromes

Allergy to lychee fruit is sometimes linked to Celery-Mugwort-Spice Syndrome as the sensitising allergen is a profilin protein called Art v 4, these proteins are also sometimes also called Bet v 2 proteins.

There is a link between lychee and Latex Food Syndrome. The plant involved in latex allergy Hevea brasiliensis, the rubber tree plant, has an allergen called Hev b 8 which is a profilin protein. Those very sensitised to latex may have a contact allergic reaction from other foods or plants containing profilin proteins, there is less evidence of this than sensitisation to other latex linked proteins like hevein and chitinases.

Cross Reactivity

Lychee is broadly linked to other fruit profilin allergies. Allergy to celery, peanut, soyabeans, walnut, lupin, almonds, mustard, hazelnut, kiwi, pineapple, chilli, melon, orange, strawberry, apple, banana, aubergine (eggplant), peach, pear, tomato, dates, cherry, carrot, barley and wheat. Allergic reactions to some of these foods may be considered a marker of profilin hypersensitivity.

Please note that this food list is not exhaustive. The most up to date information is on the cross reactivity tool.



Science Direct - Lychee

Allergenic Encyclopedia - Lychee

Allergy information for: Lychee (Litchi chinensis)

Lychee Allergy Symptoms and Diagnosis

Histamine Food List

ATP Science - Salicylate Food List

Articles and Journals

Recent advances in the study of epitopes, allergens and immunologic cross-reactivity of edible mango, 2024

Recent advances in the study of epitopes, allergens and immunologic cross-reactivity of edible mango , 2023

Study the correlation of eosinophils, serum IL-33, total IgE and specific IgE with childhood asthma, 2023

Structural insights into the amino acid usage variations in the profilin gene family, 2022

Severe anaphylaxis to lychee (Litchi Sinensis): Concerning five cases reported to Allergy Vigilance Network, 2013

Profilins: mimickers of allergy or relevant allergens?, 2011

Profilin sensitization detected in the office by skin prick test: a study of prevalence and clinical relevance of profilin as a plant food allergen, 2008

Anaphylactic reaction to lychee in a 12-year-old girl: cross-reactivity to latex? 2002

IgE reactivity to profilin in pollen-sensitized subjects with adverse reactions to banana and pineapple, 2002

Anaphylactic reaction to lychee fruit: evidence for sensitization to profilin, 1995

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