Royal jelly is widely consumed in the community and has perceived benefits ranging from promoting growth in children and improvement of general health status to enhancement of longevity for the elderly. However, royal jelly consumption has been linked to contact dermatitis, acute asthma, anaphylaxis and death. High prevalence of positive skin tests to royal jelly have been reported among atopic populations in countries with a high rate of royal jelly consumption. The present study is aimed to identify the major allergens of royal jelly. Royal jelly extract was separated by sodium dodecyl polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) and 2-dimensional electrophoresis (2-D). Immunoblotting of the SDS-PAGE and 2-D profiles were performed to identify the allergenic spots. Spots were then excised from the 2-D gel, digested with trypsin and analyzed by mass spectrometry. The SDS-PAGE of royal jelly extract revealed 18 bands between 10 to 167 kD. Western blot of the fractionated proteins detected 15 IgE-binding bands between 14 to 127 kD with seven major allergens of 32, 40, 42, 49, 55, 60 and 67 kD using serum from 53 subjects with royal jelly allergy. The 2-D gel fractionated the royal jelly proteins to more than 50 different protein spots. Out of these, 30 spots demonstrated specific IgE affinity to the sera tested. Eight spots of the major royal jelly allergens were selected for mass-spectrometry analysis. Digested tryptic peptides of the spots were compared to the amino acid sequence search in protein databases which identified the fragments of royal jelly homologus to major royal jelly protein 1 (MRJ1) and major royal jelly protein 2 (MRJ2). In conclusion, the major allergens of royal jelly are MRJ1 and MRJ2 in our patients' population.
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