MAR 23, 2016 12:52 PM PDT

Man Acquires Kiwi Allergy After Bone Marrow Transplant

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham
After receiving a bone marrow transplant, a 46-year-old man reportedly acquired a new fruit allergy to kiwis. The mystery of where the allergy originated had a likely answer: the donor of the bone marrow transplant was the man’s sister, who happens to be kiwi-allergic. In analyzing this case, researchers offered the first conclusive evidence of an allergy transfer originating from donor cells.
 
Kiwi allergy transferred in bone marrow transplant

As part of the therapy plan for his leukemia, the male patient was treated with high doses of chemotherapy to destroy the cancer cells. Subsequently, he needed a bone marrow transplant to replace the population of hematopoietic stem cells in the bones. Luckily for him, his sister was a match and the transplant was a success. But after he experienced newly acquired oral allergy symptoms induced by kiwis, doctors suspected that his sister’s donor cells were the culprits for the reaction.
 
To prove this, doctors obtained cells from the patient’s blood that were cross-reacting and producing antibodies to kiwi extracts. They then used fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) to show that the antibodies originated in his sister’s donated hematopoietic stem cells, which repopulated in his bone marrow.
 
"FISH analysis proved that hematopoietic cells of the male recipient completely originated from the female donor," said the researchers in their report. The evidence dismisses transient antibodies that could have been transferred during the transplant, but rather implicates actual donated cells that still produce the antibodies in a different host. A likely consequence of this finding is that the acquired allergy will most likely be long-lasting.
 
This is not the first instance of surgery-related allergy transfer. Just last year, doctors reported a boy who developed allergies to fish and nuts following a blood transfusion. Allergies are caused by the immune system over-reacting to seemingly innocuous allergens, like tree pollen, dust, cat hair, or kiwi fruits. But why these reactions occur and how they can be transferred is still being intensely studied.
 
In the case of the kiwi allergy, researchers have learned how acquired allergies can be sustained over a long period of time, as the antibody-producing cells in the man’s bone marrow all come from his kiwi-allergic sister. Interestingly, this case also has researchers probing the converse situation: if allergies can be spread via bone marrow transplants, can it also be reversed with the same procedure? For some who suffer severe life-threatening allergies, research on this treatment possibility would be most welcomed. 
 
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
AUG 15, 2020
Cardiology
Following Platelets to Diagnose Myocarditis
AUG 15, 2020
Following Platelets to Diagnose Myocarditis
The heart is a sensitive thing, prone not just to metaphorical heartbreak, but genuine issues if not taken care of. Myoc ...
AUG 15, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
How Dermatitis is Linked to Increased Risk of Food Allergies
AUG 15, 2020
How Dermatitis is Linked to Increased Risk of Food Allergies
Small changes in the genome can sometimes have a huge impact, and researchers have found two that increase the risk of e ...
AUG 23, 2020
Technology
Cyborg Technology Could Advance Diagnostics
AUG 23, 2020
Cyborg Technology Could Advance Diagnostics
Although it’s true, "cyborgs" are technically science fiction being the fact that they are part human an ...
SEP 15, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Autism Spectrum Disorder Biomarker is Discovered
SEP 15, 2020
Autism Spectrum Disorder Biomarker is Discovered
Scientists may have identified a biomarker for autism spectrum disorder, which can be difficult to differentiate from ot ...
SEP 17, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Blood Vessels on a Chip Test Clotting
SEP 17, 2020
Blood Vessels on a Chip Test Clotting
Blood clotting, also known as coagulation, is a critical biological mechanism to prevent excessive blood loss in the eve ...
OCT 15, 2020
Cardiology
Measuring Pulse Transit Time as a Replacement for the Inflatable Cuff
OCT 15, 2020
Measuring Pulse Transit Time as a Replacement for the Inflatable Cuff
Many people deal with one disease or another every day of their life. Most require checking on things like blood sugar f ...
Loading Comments...