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
OCT 21, 2019
Cardiology
OCT 21, 2019
Beyond Annoying, Noise Is Bad For Your Health
Peace and quiet are hard to come by these days. Cities are rife with noise pollution from a significant number of sources. Everything from automotive traff...
OCT 21, 2019
Health & Medicine
OCT 21, 2019
Use of Functional Inhibitors of Acid Sphingomyelinase (FIASMA) to Treat Intracelluar Bacterial Infections
Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University presented the findings of their study published in Life Science Alliance that certain a...
OCT 21, 2019
Technology
OCT 21, 2019
Smartphone App May Diagnose Childhood Respiratory Problems
Smartphone apps with incorporated automated cough analysis technology could help in the diagnosis of childhood respiratory disorders. Specifically, in a mu...
OCT 21, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
OCT 21, 2019
Novel Chemistry That Allows Faster and Easier Synthesis of New PET Scan Probes
For positron emission tomography (PET) scans, patients are injected with a radioactive probe that emits positrons (a positron is the antimatter of an elect...
OCT 21, 2019
Clinical & Molecular DX
OCT 21, 2019
Hepatitis A Causes Public Health Crisis In Florida
Although highly contagious, Hepatitis A is considered a rare disease. It has largely been controlled through immunizations. That said, in Florida, Hepatiti...
OCT 21, 2019
Cardiology
OCT 21, 2019
The Best Way to Test Blood Pressure and Find Heart Disease
Heart disease causes hundreds of thousands of deaths annually -- can a new study on blood pressure tests guide doctors toward earlier diagnosis? About one ...
Loading Comments...