Characterization and modulation of fish allergenicity towards the production of a low allergen farmed fish

Denise Schrama

Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral Thesis


Food allergies are a common health problem worldwide, triggering an abnormal immune response. Fish belongs to the top nine of most allergenic foods, among milk, eggs, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soybeans and the most recently added sesame. The continuing increase of aquaculture production and the relatively easy access to fish worldwide, contribute to increased fish consumption which result in higher prevalence of allergies. The main allergen in fish, responsible for up to 70-95% of the allergic reactions, is a small and stable calcium-binding muscle protein named parvalbumin. This thesis was focused on parvalbumin in two economically important fish species for Southern Europe aquaculture, namely gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) and European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax). Chapter 2 characterized this allergen, determining its structure by circular dichroism, sequencing its amino acids by mass spectrometry and analyzing its stability after fish digestion or processing. Results showed that parvalbumin represents a higher content of α-helices and some β-sheets in its secondary structure, at room temperature. Parvalbumins detection reduced throughout gastrointestinal digestion, and also several processing techniques, like salting, steaming and autoclaving showed a significant reduction (p<0.05) in parvalbumins detectability. In Chapter 3, a questionnaire conducted in Portugal was performed to evaluate consumers’ willingness to pay for low allergenic fish. Results showed that not only half the consumers were willing to pay extra, but also suggested that this was explained by the presence of fish allergies in the family and by the fish unique characteristics and quality. For the modulation of fish allergenicity Chapters 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3 analyzed this possibility by the supplementation of fish diets with additives like creatine and ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA). Results showed a 50% reduction in fish-allergic serum Immunoglobulin-E (IgE)- reactivity when 3% EDTA was supplemented in gilthead seabreams diet. This promising result showed the possibility to modulate parvalbumin in order to decrease its allergenicity.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Algrave
  • Rodrigues, Pedro M., Supervisor, External person
  • Kuehn, Annette, Co-Supervisor
Award date18 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2023


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