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Allergen Encyclopedia
Table of Contents

Whole Allergen

f260 Broccoli

f260 Broccoli Scientific Information


Whole Allergen

Display Name:




Latin Name:

Brassica oleracea var. italica

Other Names:

Broccoli, Spear Cauliflower, Winter Cauliflower, Purple Cauliflower, Calabrese, Romanesco

Clinical Relevance

IgE-mediated reactions

Anecdotal evidence suggests that Broccoli can occasionally induce symptoms of food allergy in sensitised individuals; however, few studies have been reported to date.

A positive reaction to Broccoli in a skin test of a female patient has been reported (1). She experienced pain and swelling in the mouth and throat, plus breathing difficulties, after intake of coleslaw. The researchers concluded: “IgE sensitivity can occur to foods in the Brassica family not normally thought to cause allergic reactions in man. It is vital for the physician to consider these foods when evaluating patients for food allergy”.

Other reactions

Allergic and occupational contact dermatitis to Broccoli has been reported (2,3). A 56-year-old female nurse presented with a 3-year history of severe eczema and recurrent blisters of her palms, with the left being more severely affected than the right. She was patch tested with, among other substances, parts of fresh vegetables that she commonly used (Carrot, Parsnip, Potato, Broccoli, Onion, Tomato and Bean (unspecified)). There was a positive reaction to cobalt, Compositae mix and Broccoli at 48 and 96 hours. A usage test with Latex gloves, a skin prick test to commercial Latex solution, and a skin prick test to Broccoli were negative. The patient’s hand eczema improved remarkably on avoiding direct contact with Broccoli and other vegetables (2).

Maternal intake of Cabbage, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Cow’s milk, Onion, and Chocolate were significantly related to colic symptoms in exclusively breast-fed infants (4).

Molecular Aspects

No allergens have been characterised to date.

A 9 kDa protein, a lipid transfer protein (LTP), has been detected or inferred (5-8). LTP’s are heat-stable allergens. A 9 kDa lipid transfer protein has been isolated from the surface wax of Broccoli leaves. The amino acid sequence showed 40 to 50% identity with nonspecific lipid transfer proteins isolated from various other plants. Antigenicity was not determined in this study (9). A study has demonstrated that Oilseed rape and Turnip rape, closely related family members, contain 2S albumins (10). Broccoli was not evaluated for this potential allergen.


An extensive cross-reactivity among the different individual species of the genus could be expected, as well as to a certain degree among members of the family Brassicaceae, such as Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and Cabbage (1). This has been bourne out by a study that reported cross-reactivity among Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Mustard, Rape and Turnip (11). Some authors disagree and state that cross-reactivity among the Brassicaceae species is rare (12).

A lipid transfer protein (LTP) was isolated from Broccoli and found to be similar to the LTP purified from Peach peel and Carrot (6). Cross-reactivity among plants containing LTP is possible.

Compiled By

Last reviewed: April 2022

  1. Yman L. Botanical relations and immunological cross-reactions in pollen allergy. 2nd ed. Pharmacia Diagnostics AB. Uppsala. Sweden. 1982: ISBN 91-970475-09
  2. Chakrabarti A, Prais L, Foulds IS. Allergic contact dermatitis to broccoli.
    Br J Dermatol 2003;148(1):172-3
  3. Sanchez-Guerrero IM, Escudero AI. Occupational contact dermatitis to broccoli. Allergy 1998;53(6):621-2
  4. Lust KD, Brown JE, et al. Maternal intake of cruciferous vegetables and other foods and colic symptoms in exclusively breast-fed infants. J Am Diet Assoc 1996;96(1):46-8
  5. International Union of Immunological Societies Allergen Nomenclature: IUIS official list 2008
  6. Asero R, Mistrello G, Roncarolo D, Amato S, van Ree R. A case of allergy to beer showing cross-reactivity between lipid transfer proteins. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2001;87(1):65-7
  7. Asero R, Mistrello G, Roncarolo D, de Vries SC, Gautier MF, Ciurana CL, Verbeek E, Mohammadi T, Knul-Brettlova V, Akkerdaas JH,
    Bulder I, Aalberse RC, van Ree R. Lipid transfer protein: a pan-allergen in plant-derived foods that is highly resistant to pepsin digestion.
    Int Arch Allergy Immunol 2000;122(1):20-32
  8. Palacin A, Cumplido J, Figueroa J, Ahrazem O, Sanchez-Monge R, Carrillo T, Salcedo G, Blanco C. Cabbage lipid transfer protein Bra o 3 is a major allergen responsible for cross-reactivity between plant foods and pollens.
    J Allergy Clin Immunol 2006;117(6):1423-9
  9. Pyee J, Yu H, Kolattukudy PE. Identification of a lipid transfer protein as the major protein in the surface wax of broccoli (Brassica oleracea) leaves.
    Arch Biochem Biophys 1994;311(2):460-8
  10. Puumalainen TJ, Poikonen S, Kotovuori A, Vaali K, Kalkkinen N, Reunala T, Turjanmaa K,
    Palosuo T. Napins, 2S albumins, are major allergens in oilseed rape and turnip rape.
    J Allergy Clin Immunol 2006;117(2):426-32
  11. Blaiss MS, McCants M, Lehrer S. Anaphylaxis to cabbage: detection of allergens.
    Ann Allergy 1987;58:248-50
  12. Ortolani C, Ispano M, Ansaloni R, Rotondo F, Incorvaia C, Pastorello EA Diagnostic problems due to cross-reactions in food allergy.
    Allergy 1998;53:(Suppl 46):58-61