Establishing a threshold dose for peanut allergy

A recent study in Northern France will be welcomed by regulators and the food industry as it appears to provide sufficient data to allow the establishment of some preliminary thresholds for reactions to peanuts eg the largest amount of peanut that is not expected to cause a severe reaction in any individual within the total population of people with peanut allergy.

The study was of 286 known peanut-allergic patients, mainly children,  attending a single clinic, and included patients who had experienced severe reactions including anaphylactic.

During an examination of the patients’ records, the researchers looked at their individual No Observed Adverse Effect levels (NOAELs) and Lowest Observed Adverse Effect Levels (LOAELs). An individual’s elicitation threshold lies somewhere between the two.

The patients who were thought likely to react at very low doses were started at 0.1mg and challenged up to 44.4mg. This ensured that an individual NOAEL was obtained for all but eight subjects. Almost all symptoms observed during challenges were mild. Severe symptoms such as fall in blood pressure were observed only occasionally. They were never observed during progression one (low dose). The most common symptoms were linked to the gastrointestinal tract.

The study suggests that 50% of the peanut allergic population will begin reacting at 157mg of whole peanut; 10% will react at 14.4mg and 5% at 7.3mg. A few will begin reacting at lower doses but reactions will be mild at those levels.

Threshold dose for peanut: Risk characterization based upon diagnostic oral challenge of a series of 286 peanut-allergic individuals
Food and Chemical Toxicology Volume 48, Issue 3, March 2010, Pages 814-819

First published in March 2010

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