The project is a collaboration between Stiftung Deutscher Polleninformationsdienst (PID – German Pollen Information Service Foundation), Allergie-Centrum-Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin in cooperation with BUND Lemgo (the Lemgo local environmental protection association), ILT.NRW (Institute for Food Technology) at the Ostwestfalen-Lippe University of Applied Sciences and the European Centre for Allergy Research Foundation (ECARF).
Many hay fever patients develop an apple allergy over time, due to what is known as pollen-food syndrome. This occurs because allergens in tree pollen from hazel, alder or birch have similarities to protein structures found in apples. One of the objectives of the research project is to find out why old apple varieties are better tolerated. Another objective is to answer the question as to why many allergic individuals seem to acquire an increased tolerance for newer, allergy-triggering apple varieties after eating the old ones. The researchers are investigating whether it is possible to reduce allergy symptoms through dietary changes and achieve hyposensitisation in a natural way.
Around 150 allergy sufferers will participate in the research. These patients experience allergy symptoms after eating a popular variety of apple. The study will be conducted throughout Germany beginning in the autumn. The study design was awarded the Kanert prize.
Detailed information is available for apple allergy sufferers on the website of BUND Lemgo.
The project follows up on the results obtained by Japanese researchers, who discovered that the oral ingestion of polyphenols from apples have a mitigating effect on allergic rhinitis symptoms. Polyphenols are phytochemicals that give the apple its colour and taste. Many old apple varieties have a higher concentration of polyphenols, which make apples taste tart and turn brown after they are cut. This is why the newer apple varieties are selectively bred to minimise the polyphenol content as much as possible.
According to a survey from the Robert Koch Institute** among 8,000 participants, 14.6% of adults in Germany have reported having a pollen allergy during their lifetime. Pollen-food syndrome mainly affects people who are allergic to hazel, alder or birch pollen. The most common symptoms of an apple allergy are itching in the mouth and swelling of oral mucosa, tongue or lips. Patients may experience symptoms in the eyes, nose, on the skin, or difficulty breathing. The symptoms usually occur five to ten minutes after eating and subside after 20 minutes.
* T Enomoto, Y Nagasako-Akazome, T Kanda, M Ikeda, Y Dake.
Clinical Effects of Apple Polyphenols on Persistent Allergic Rhinitis: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Parallel Arm Study. J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2006; Vol. 16(5): 283-289.
** The first wave of the German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Adults (DEGS1) 2008-2011, Robert Koch Institute