Important variations in parvalbumin content in common fish species: A factor possibly contributing to variable allergenicity

A. Kuehn*, T. Scheuermann, C. Hilger, F. Hentges

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

109 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Although 95% of fish-allergic patients are sensitized to the major fish allergen parvalbumin, clinical reactions to different fish species vary considerably in symptoms, intensity and frequency in allergic subjects. This study aimed at the quantification of parvalbumin levels in salmon, trout, cod, carp, mackerel, herring, redfish and tuna. Methods: Fish muscle extracts were separated by SDS-PAGE and parvalbumin content was estimated by densitometric band quantification. Individual antisera were raised in BALB/c mice against parvalbumins purified from seven fish species. Parvalbumin content was quantified in fish (raw/processed) and skin prick test (SPT) solutions by ELISA using the corresponding anti-serum for detection and the purified parvalbumins as standards. Results: Using SDS-PAGE scanning, parvalbumin contents were <0.5 mg per gram tissue for mackerel, 0.5-2 mg for salmon and trout, and >2 mg for cod, carp, redfish and herring. Using ELISA, parvalbumin content ranged from <0.05 mg for tuna, 0.3-0.7 mg for mackerel, 1-2.5 mg for salmon, trout and cod to >2.5 mg per gram raw muscle for carp, herring and redfish. The parvalbumin content of processed samples (cooked/commercial) was 20-60% lower. Allergen content in SPT samples ranged from 20 to 70 μg parvalbumin/ml of extract. No parvalbumin was found in tuna SPT solution. Conclusion: The parvalbumin content of most commonly consumed fish species varies considerably. Differences range from severalfold to one hundredfold. This has to be taken into account when designing food challenge tests and advising fish-allergic patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-366
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Archives of Allergy and Immunology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010


  • Allergen content
  • Allergen quantification
  • Fish
  • Fish allergen
  • Fish species
  • Food allergy
  • Parvalbumin
  • Skin prick tests


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