clear search
Recent searches Clear History
Allergen Encyclopedia
Table of Contents

Allergene intero

f41 Salmon (Atlantic)

f41 Salmon (Atlantic) Scientific Information


Whole Allergen

Nome visualizzato:

Salmon (Atlantic)

Route of Exposure:





Salmo salar

Latin Name:

Salmo salar

Other Names:

Sea salmon, Black salmon


Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) is a commercially important fish, which is popularly consumed due to its good source of vitamins, high-content of proteins, and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Salmon is native to subarctic regions of the North Atlantic Ocean, Canada, and Russia and salmon aquaculture is significant in some countries. Worldwide, fish allergy prevalence is 0.2%. Fish allergy prevalence is higher in countries where fish is consumed as a staple food and where a high number of fish-processing industries are found. Salmon allergy is primarily induced through oral route and secondarily through exposure to vapors while cooking and boiling fish or fish processing and through contact.  Ingestion of salmon by sensitized individuals triggers allergic symptoms such as oral allergy syndrome, angioedema, urticaria, anaphylaxis, nausea, and gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain). Also, occupational exposure to an aerosolized salmon allergen or skin contact can lead to asthma, rhinitis, and skin rash. The major allergen identified is Sal s 1, a parvalbumin, which is a highly stable and heat resistant protein found in salmon muscle tissue. Fish parvalbumin is a panallergen, which is responsible for cross-reactivity among different fish species. About 50% of patients hypersensitive to cod are reported to react to salmon. Cross-reactivity between finned fish and shellfish such as crustaceans is also reported. Hence, individuals with fish allergies are advised to avoid fish in any form in the diet.



Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) is the most popular and commercially important fish worldwide. (1). Migration is a trademark of salmon’s life history. Juvenile salmon after attaining certain developmental stage leaves fresh water in spring and moves towards the ocean through estuaries (2).     


Salmon is anadromous (live in the sea and migrate to fresh water for breeding); the growth opportunities are higher in the sea compared to fresh water. However, mortality is higher in the marine environment. Females migrate from rivers to the sea to spawn, because of a decrease in egg mortality and fry in freshwater (2). Salmon is native to subarctic regions of the North Atlantic Ocean from Ungava Bay, Canada, the Barents Sea in the west, and Kara Sea areas of Russia in the east. (3). Salmon aquaculture is especially significant in countries like Norway, Chile, Canada, Greenland, and the United Kingdom (UK)  (1).   


Taxonomic tree of Salmon (4,5)  
Domain Eukaryota
Kingdom Metazoa
Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopteri
Order  Salmoniformes
Family Salmonidae
Genus Salmo
Species S. salar



Salmon is a good source of vitamins, high-content of proteins, and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (6). Fish allergen such as parvalbumin, β-enolase, and aldolase are commonly found in fish muscle (7).


Worldwide distribution

Prevalence of fish allergy is found to be higher in countries where there is high fish consumption and many fish-processing industries are found (8). Fish allergy prevalence is 0.2% worldwide, while in the United States (US) the prevalence was 0.4%, and among Asian countries, the Philippines (2.29%) has the highest fish allergy prevalence compared to Singapore (0.26%) and Thailand (0.29%) (9). In European countries, the prevalence of fish allergy in the adult population is about 0.8% and is a little higher than the children. The countrywide prevalence of clinically confirmed fish allergy in the pediatric population in Europe was found to be 0.7 % in Sweden (4 years old), 0.6% in Germany (2-6 years old), and 5% in Finland (1-4 years old) (7). In Norway, fish allergy prevalence is reported to be 0.1% (10). A nationwide, cross-sectional, random telephone survey performed in the US found that seafood allergy is reported by 2.3% of the general population and among them, 2% was for shellfish, 0.4% for fish and 0.2% for both types (10, 11) A study by Turner et al. (2011) in Australia reported  IgE-mediated fish allergy in 95 out of total 167 children with a history of food or seafood allergy. Among these fish allergic patients, 38 children were found to be allergic to salmon or tuna (12).

In the USA, salmon along with tuna, catfish, and cod are the most important species reported for causing allergy, followed by flounder, halibut, trout, and bass (13). A retrospective study by Khan et al. (2011) in the US evaluated 5162 adult patients (≥18 years) with a seafood allergy and found a fish allergy prevalence of 13.8%. Among the fish allergy patients, the prevalence of salmon allergy was found to be 23.8% (14). A retrospective study from Australia showed 5.6% of children (among 2999 food-allergic children) were allergic to fish, particularly salmon, tuna, and white fish (13). A cohort study in Europe detected 12% of patients (among 62 patients) to be mono sensitized to salmonids (salmon, trout) (4).

Environmental Characteristics

Worldwide distribution

Salmon is the most commonly consumed fish in European countries and its consumption is rising (6). It is a popularly consumed fish in Germany (15). 

Route of Exposure


The primary route of exposure is ingestion of raw, cooked, or processed salmon when the allergen is exposed to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract (8, 13).


Inhalation of wet aerosols from the fish heading, degutting, and boiling at fish processing unit and also skin contact while handling fish (13).

Clinical Relevance

Oral allergy symptoms and Anaphylaxis

Sensitization to fish usually begins at the childhood stage and the patients mostly remain allergic in their entire life. Fish allergic patients on ingestion of fish or on coming in contact with fish or fish products may develop a single symptom or several clinical manifestations, including urticaria and eczema. Clinical manifestations of fish allergy typically include:

  • Mild [oral allergy syndrome (OAS), general erythema]
  • Moderate (urticaria, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea)
  • Severe (angioedema, asthma, anaphylaxis)  (8, 16)

Ingestion of salmon (raw, cooked, or processed) in sensitized individuals may lead to angioedema, rhinitis, OAS, urticaria, anaphylaxis, nausea, and gastrointestinal symptoms (13).

A retrospective study by Turner et al. (2011) analyzed 167 seafood (shellfish and fish) allergic children and reported that tuna along with salmon, prawn, and whitefish were the most frequent seafood allergens. About 21% of children had reported anaphylaxis. Other symptoms reported were angioedema and urticaria. Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain were reported in 12% of children. Ingestion of salmon (including canned) reported inducing lip angioedema, itchy throat, and perioral hives. Also, among all the tuna and/or salmon allergic children, about 21% were able to tolerate a canned form of fish (12).

In one US study with 5162 seafood allergic patients, skin manifestation was most commonly reported by the fish allergic patients, followed by respiratory manifestations. Out of 5 salmon allergic patients, all showed symptoms related to skin, and 1 showed respiratory symptoms (14).

Allergic rhinitis

Occupational exposure to wet aerosols from fish heading and degutting, and boiling fish in sensitized workers can lead to respiratory symptoms such as asthma, rhinitis, dyspnea, wheezing, tightness of throat as well as skin rash (13). Ocular or upper respiratory symptoms such as rhinorrhea and nasal pruritus induced by vapor from seafood were reported in 16% of children in a study with 167 seafood allergic children (12).


Inhalation of vapor during cooking and processing seafood can induce upper and lower airway symptoms (16). A study by Dahlman-Hoglund et al. (2012) analyzed exposure of aeroallergens and respiratory symptoms among 26 workers in the salmon processing industry. The study found that workers were exposed to a high level of salmon allergen at the filleting machines and tables. Asthma was reported in 3 workers, 26 workers were atopic, 17 workers reported respiratory symptoms among atopic or smokers. 13 workers reported onset of respiratory symptoms after they were employed. Upper and lower respiratory tract symptoms were reported in 58% and 38% of workers respectively. Nine workers had a cough, 7 had dyspnea, 11 had a frequent cough with phlegm, and 9 had wheeze anytime (17).    

A survey by Douglas et al. (1995) on 291 employees working in an automated salmon processing plant in the UK reported 24 (8.2%) individuals with occupational asthma. Aerosolized salmon-serum proteins were found near the machines. The onset of symptoms was within 2 weeks to 3 months on commencing the job. The risk factor for developing asthma and IgE antibody production was found to be smoking (18). 

Atopic Dermatitis

Fish aeroallergens may trigger atopic dermatitis in some individuals (8).

Prevention and Therapy

Prevention strategies


If an individual is suffering from a fish allergy, it is advisable to avoid fish in any form in the diet (8).

Molecular Aspects

Allergenic molecules


Name of allergen Molecular weight (kDa)  Common name Tissue present   Route of exposure
Sal s 1 (major) 10-12 β - parvalbumin 1 Muscle Ingestion/ Inhalation; stable to heat and denaturing agents
Sal s 2 (minor) 47.3 β -enolase Muscle Ingestion/ Inhalation; less stable and highly cross-reactive
Sal s 3 (minor) 40 Aldolase A Muscle Ingestion/ Inhalation; less stable and highly cross-reactive
Sal s 4 37 Tropomyosin Muscle  
Sal s 6 130-140 Collagen α Skin  
Sal s 7 43 Creatine kinase Muscle  
Sal s 8 25 Triosephosphate isomerase Muscle  
Vitellogenins (similar to Gal d 6) >150 Glycolipoproteins (lipid transfer proteins) Fish Eggs Ingestion

Other allergens reported are fructose-bis-phosphate isomerase and serum albumin (4, 8, 13, 15, 19).

β -parvalbumin is the major allergen in salmon, similar to other fishes like carp, mackerel, tuna, and pilchard. Parvalbumins are low-molecular-weight, extremely stable proteins, mostly present in fish muscle (8). A study by Kuhen et al. (2013) evaluated undefined fish allergen from cod, tuna, and salmon from 62 patients allergic to these fishes. IgE binding of enolases, aldolases, and fish gelatin was 62.9%, 50%, and 19.3% respectively (16). 


Patients allergic to finned fish, such as tuna may show 50% cross-reactivity to other finned fishes such as salmon and cod (20). Currently, an association between clinical monosensitivity to salmonid fishes (such as salmon, trout, etc.) and salmonid parvalbumin-specific IgE antibodies has been detected. This indicated that cross-reactivity may occur in these closely related fishes (8). Fish parvalbumin is a panallergen, which shows cross-reactivity among closely related fishes (8). Cod allergic patients (approximately 50%) also cross-react with salmon, due to 58% homology of amino acid sequence between cod allergen Gad c 1 and salmon allergen Sal s 1 (6). A study by Vando et al. (2005) evaluated cross-reactivity among 9 commonly edible fish: cod, salmon, pollack, mackerel, tuna, herring, wolffish, halibut, and flounder. Results showed nine (out of 10 patients) had positive skin prick test for cod, salmon, and pollack. Tuna allergen and pollack allergen (The c 1) are highly cross-reactive to the salmon allergen. The allergens Gad c 1 (Cod), Sal s 1 (Salmon), and The c 1 (pollack), herring, and wolffish are the most potent cross-reacting allergens (10).

Minor allergens β-enolases and the aldolases of fish are also reported to cross-react, but reactivity differs from individual to individual (15).

Moreover, shellfish (shrimp and lobster) or finned fish (salmon, tuna, and cod) allergic patients are recommended to avoid all the species of shellfish or finned fish due to the high rate of cross-reactivity (20). 

Compiled By

Author: Turacoz Healthcare Solutions

Reviewer: Dr. Christian Fischer


Last reviewed: November 2020

  1. Houston RD, Macqueen DJ. Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) genetics in the 21st century: taking leaps forward in aquaculture and biological understanding. Anim Genet. 2019;50(1):3-14.
  2. McCormick S, Hansen L, Quinn T, Saunders R. Movement, migration, and smolting of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. 1998;55.
  3. Arnekleiv JV, Davidsen JG, Sheehan TF, Lehnert SJ, Bradbury IR, Ronning L, et al. Demographic and genetic description of Greenland's only indigenous Atlantic salmon Salmo salar population. J Fish Biol. 2019;94(1):154-64.
  4. Klueber J, Schrama D, Rodrigues P, Dickel H, Kuehn A. Fish Allergy Management: From Component-Resolved Diagnosis to Unmet Diagnostic Needs. Current Treatment Options in Allergy. 2019;6(4):322-37.
  5. NCBI. Taxanomy browser (Salmo salar) 2020. :[Available from: on 15 November 2020.
  6. Perez-Gordo M, Lin J, Bardina L, Pastor-Vargas C, Cases B, Vivanco F, et al. Epitope mapping of Atlantic salmon major allergen by peptide microarray immunoassay. Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2012;157(1):31-40.
  7. Ruethers T, Taki AC, Johnston EB, Nugraha R, Le TTK, Kalic T, et al. Seafood allergy: A comprehensive review of fish and shellfish allergens. Mol Immunol. 2018;100:28-57.
  8. Kuehn A, Swoboda I, Arumugam K, Hilger C, Hentges F. Fish allergens at a glance: variable allergenicity of parvalbumins, the major fish allergens. Front Immunol. 2014;5:179.
  9. Tong WS, Yuen AW, Wai CY, Leung NY, Chu KH, Leung PS. Diagnosis of fish and shellfish allergies. J Asthma Allergy. 2018;11:247-60.
  10. Van Do T, Elsayed S, Florvaag E, Hordvik I, Endresen C. Allergy to fish parvalbumins: studies on the cross-reactivity of allergens from 9 commonly consumed fish. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2005;116(6):1314-20.
  11. Sicherer SH. Prevalence of seafood allergy in the United States determined by a random telephone survey. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2004;114(1):159-65.
  12. Turner P, Ng I, Kemp A, Campbell D. Seafood allergy in children: a descriptive study. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2011;106(6):494-501.
  13. Sharp MF, Lopata AL. Fish allergy: in review. Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2014;46(3):258-71.
  14. Khan F, Orson F, Ogawa Y, Parker C, Davis CM. Adult seafood allergy in the Texas Medical Center: A 13-year experience. Allergy Rhinol (Providence). 2011;2(2):e71-7.
  15. Kuehn A, Radauer C, Lopata AL, Kleine-Tebbe J, Swoboda I. Extract-Based and Molecular Diagnostics in Fish Allergy.  Molecular Allergy Diagnostics2017. p. 381-97.
  16. Kuehn A, Hilger C, Lehners-Weber C, Codreanu-Morel F, Morisset M, Metz-Favre C, et al. Identification of enolases and aldolases as important fish allergens in cod, salmon and tuna: component resolved diagnosis using parvalbumin and the new allergens. Clin Exp Allergy. 2013;43(7):811-22.
  17. Dahlman-Hoglund A, Renstrom A, Larsson PH, Elsayed S, Andersson E. Salmon allergen exposure, occupational asthma, and respiratory symptoms among salmon processing workers. Am J Ind Med. 2012;55(7):624-30.
  18. Douglas JD, McSharry C, Blaikie L, Morrow T, Miles S, Franklin D. Occupational asthma caused by automated salmon processing. Lancet. 1995;346(8977):737-40.
  19. WHO/IUIS. Allergen Salmo salar (Atlantic salmon) 2020. Available from: on 18 September 2020.
  20. Abrams EM, Sicherer SH. Diagnosis and management of food allergy. CMAJ. 2016;188(15):1087-93.