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Whole Allergen vs Component Testing

A two-step approach to blood testing

There are two steps to blood tests: Whole allergen and allergen components. A whole allergen blood test shows what may cause an allergic reaction, while an allergen component test can determine—down to the molecular level—what components (proteins) could be causing your reaction. 


 


Step 1:
Whole allergen testing

Whole allergen testing is used to help your healthcare professional confirm a suspected allergy, to help determine what could be causing your reactions, or to help rule allergy in or out.1-3 A simple blood test can reveal potential sensitization to hundreds of possible allergens with one blood sample. It can identify specific regional allergens and the most common food allergens as well. For instance, if you are experiencing symptoms at home and assume they are caused by a family pet, a blood test might reveal the true cause as dust mites. Knowing the cause can ease stress when it comes to managing your symptoms. 

 


Step 2:
Allergen component testing

Allergen component testing can help pinpoint the allergenic proteins causing the symptoms4 and bring peace of mind to someone who’s not sure what the primary cause of their symptoms is.

Allergen components can help:    

  • Assess the risk for reaction – mild to severe (like anaphylaxis)
  • Explain symptoms due to cross-reactivity
  • Improve diagnostic accuracy


     

Specific components – help reveal your source of allergy

Each allergen source (what’s identified through whole allergen testing) contains one or more allergenic proteins.

It has been found that sensitization to these specific proteins can help validate the primary cause of your symptoms. This information is important for your healthcare professional to improve your management plan.

Another example is when a child is allergic to milk or egg. In these cases a positive component test result to certain specific proteins indicates the child is most likely not to tolerate these foods, even if cooked or baked. However, if the test result is negative to these specific proteins, the child may tolerate milk and egg if cooked or baked, e.g. cake or cookies.

Cross-reactive proteins – improve your diagnosis

Cross-reactive proteins are more widely distributed and may be shared between a very wide range of allergen sources. Since they are similar in their structure, they may cause a cross-reactive allergic reaction. A good example is someone with a primary allergy to birch pollen. This may trigger a mild and localized peanut reaction because the peanut protein is structurally similar to the protein in birch pollen and a cross-reaction may occur.

Component testing will help your healthcare professional identify what proteins are causing your reactions, which can make allergy management easier. So, instead of assuming you are allergic to peanuts, component testing may help to distinguish between a severe clinical allergy, as opposed to a milder cross-reaction.

Learn more about cross-reactivity

By revealing your precise allergies, and testing for unique proteins, blood testing may be able to help your healthcare professional diagnose, and optimize
your allergy management.

Be sure to consult with your healthcare professional today


 

References
  1. Adapted from Duran-Tauleria E, Vignati G, Guedan MJ, et al. The utility of specific immunoglobulin E measurements in primary car. Allergy. 2004;59 Suppl 78:35-41.
  2. Adapted from Niggemann B, von Berg A, Bollrath C, et al. Safety and efficacy of a new extensively hydrolyzed formyla for infanats with cow’s milk protein. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2008;19:325-31.
  3. Eigenmann PA, Atanaskovic-Markovic M O’B Hourihane J, et al. Testing children for allergies:why, how, who and when; an updated statement of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) Section of Pediatrics and the EAACI-Clemens von Pirquet Foundation. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2013;24:195-209.
  4. Canonica GW, Ansotegui I, Pawankar  R, et al. A WAO – ARIA - GA2 LEN consensus document on molecular-based allergy diagnostics. World Allergy Organ J. 2013;6:17.