Sunflower seed

Code: k84
Latin name: Helianthus annuus
Source material: Whole seeds
Family: Asteraceae (Compositae)
Allergy to sunflower seeds is frequently associated with inhalant allergy to pollen from plants of the family Compositae.

Allergen Exposure

Sunflower seeds are an important animal food, a major source of vegetable oil, are frequently added to bread, and fed to cage birds. Sunflower seed used as animal food may be an occupational risk for workers processing the material (12).
 
A case of pollen allergy due to the pollen content of a seed preparation has been reported (13).   

Potential Cross-Reactivity

Allergy to sunflower seeds is frequently associated with inhalant allergy to pollen from plants of the family Compositae, especially Artemisia (Mugwort) (9-11).

Clinical Experience

Several reports have described anaphylactic reactions after ingestion of Sunflower seeds (1-4). A Spanish study reported sunflower sensitization in 15/27 patients (56%) with allergy to vegetables other than legumes (5). Reactions to seed proteins in sunflower oil have been reported but may be dependent on oil quality and are difficult to confirm because of the physical nature of the oil (1, 6).
 
Reactions to the seed proteins may occur several hours after ingestion and may be potentiated by exercise (7) or simultaeous intake of acetylsalicylic acid (8). A case of pollen allergy due to the pollen content of a seed preparation has been reported (13). Seed-specific IgE antibodies are generally found in patients reporting reactions and a positive skin test. In a direct comparison, Pharmacia CAP System and skin prick test with the natural food agreed in 10/11 cases (9).

Review
Sunflower seeds are an important animal food, a major source of vegetable oil, are frequently added to bread, and fed to cage birds. Several reports have described anaphylactic reactions after ingestion of Sunflower seeds (1-4). A Spanish study reported sunflower sensitization in 15/27 patients (56%) with allergy to vegetables other than legumes (5). Reactions to seed proteins in sunflower oil have been reported, but may be dependent on oil quality and are difficult to confirm because of the physical nature of the oil (1, 6). Reactions to the seed proteins may occur several hours after ingestion and may be potentiated by exercise (7) or simultaeous intake of acetylsalicylic acid (8).
Allergy to sunflower seeds is frequently associated with inhalant allergy to pollen from plants of the family Compositae, especially Artemisia (Mugwort) (9-11). Sunflower seed used as animal food may be an occupational risk for workers processing the material (12). A case of pollen allergy due to the pollen content of a seed preparation has been reported (13).

Seed-specific IgE antibodies are generally found in patients reporting reactions and a positive skin test. In a direct comparison, Pharmacia CAP System and a skin prick test with the natural food agreed in 10/11 cases (9).

References

  1. Noyes JH, Boyd GK, Settipane GA. Anaphylaxis to sunflower seed. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1979;63(4):242-4.
  2. Halsey AB, Martin ME, Ruff ME, Jacobs FO, Jacobs RL. Sunflower oil is not allergenic to sunflower seed-sensitive patients. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1986;78(3 Pt 1):408-10.
  3. Iwaya M, Murakami G, Kurose K, et al. [A case of anaphylaxis caused by sunflower seed]. Arerugi 1994;43(6):696-700.
  4. Axelsson IG, Ihre E, Zetterstrom O. Anaphylactic reactions to sunflower seed. Allergy 1994;49(7):517-20.
  5. Crespo JF, Pascual C, Burks AW, Helm RM, Esteban MM. Frequency of food allergy in a pediatric population from Spain. Pediatr Allergy Immunol 1995;6(1):39-43.
  6. Kanny G, Fremont S, Nicolas JP, Moneret-Vautrin DA. Food allergy to sunflower oil in a patient sensitized to mugwort pollen. Allergy 1994;49(7):561-4.
  7. Kivity S, Dunner K, Marian Y. The pattern of food hypersensitivity in patients with onset after 10 years of age [see comments]. Clin Exp Allergy 1994;24(1):19-22.
  8. Moller R, Paul E. [Acetylsalicylic acid as an augmentation factor in food allergy]. Hautarzt 1996;47(4):281-3.
  9. Garcia Ortiz JC, Cosmes PM, Lopez-Asunsolo A. Allergy to foods in patients monosensitized to Artemisia pollen. Allergy 1996;51(12):927-31.
  10. Crespo JF, Pascual C, Vallecillo A, Esteban MM. Sensitization to inhalant allergens in children diagnosed with food hypersensitivity. Allergy Proc 1995;16(2):89-92.
  11. Gluck U. [Pollinosis and oral allergy syndrome]. Hno 1990;38(5):188-90.
  12. Zuskin E, Kanceljak B, Schachter EN, et al. Immunological and respiratory changes in animal food processing workers. Am J Ind Med 1992; 21(2):177-91.
  13. Rottem M, Waisel Y. Food allergy to concealed sunflower pollen. Allergy 1998;53(7):719-20.

As in all diagnostic testing, the diagnosis is made by the physican based on both test results and the patient history.