Can genetics explain if you are allergic to some pollens or foods?
White blood cell patterns determined genetically and designated as HLA DQ and DR genes have been identified with an increased risk of pollen, dust, latex, and food
Genetics of Food Reactions and
As I explain in more detail in my articles on the genetics of gluten sensitivity, we all have proteins on the surface of our cells that are genetically determined. These patterns are easily detectable by testing cells from blood or from the mouth obtained by a Q-tip type swab. Specific patterns have been associated with increased risk for autoimmune conditions, gluten sensitivity and celiac disease.
HLA DQ Genetics and Celiac or Gluten Sensitivity
HLA DQ2 is present in more than 90% of people who have celiac disease while HLADQ8 is present in most of the rest, though not all people with celiac have been found to have DQ2 and/or DQ8.
DQ and DR Genetic Patterns Associated with Food and Pollen
Now it appears certain DQ or DR patterns are associated with food and pollen
Research Documents Genetic Association With Certain Food and Pollen
Boehncke, et al. from the University of Frankfurt reported in 1998 that certain white blood cell types known HLA class II genotypes or HLA DQ and DR genetic patterns were found more frequently in people with certain pollen associated food
Birch pollen associated hazel nut
In 2004, Wang et al. from China published that the inherited white blood cell type DQA1*0302 is found in more people with Artemisia pollen-induced allergic rhinitis, hay fever due to Mugwort or Sagebrush weeds. Mugwort
Where to Get Genetic Testing
There are three commercial labs that I am aware of that offer full HLA DQ typing. They are Quest Laboratories, The Laboratory at Bonfils in Denver, and Enterolab. Bonfils runs the Enterolab genetic tests. Enterolab offers the test run on samples of cells obtained from a Q-tip swab of the mouth. The test can be obtained directly from Enterolab without a doctor’s order though it is not covered by insurance. It however is very reasonable from a genetic testing standpoint at $149. Bonfils also does the DQ typing on cells obtained from blood samples sent to them from other labs.
The Future of Genetic Testing in Pollen and Food
In the future such testing should be very helpful in evaluating suspected food
A finding of intraepithelial lymphocytosis in the distal small intestine (terminal ileum) is associated with an increased incidence of celiac disease in the proximal small intestine. Now, adding to the intrigue, are these articles linking certain inherited white blood cell protein gene patterns to pollen
Unusual Association of Pollen
This unusual association of tree, grass, and weed pollens, latex and house dust mite
If You Suspect Food
Individuals who suspect food
Consider Getting Genetic Testing or Asking Your Doctor to Test You
This new information about the link of white blood cell protein patterns, HLA DQ types, suggests that we should consider having genetic testing done. After an adequate evaluation,
Establish a Baseline Symptom Score and Start a Food Symptom Diet Diary
I encourage everyone to establish a baseline symptom score. A detailed food symptom diary before a trial of elimination diet is also extremely helpful. An elimination diet that excludes major food lectins (dairy, grain, legumes, and nightshades) and any foods from the pollen list that one is allergic is recommended before accepting diagnoses of IBS, fibromyalgia, unexplained neuropathy or headaches, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Any symptoms not readily explained or improved with other diagnoses and treatment should be considered to be possibly due to a food reaction until proven otherwise.
Boehncke, et al. Clin Exp
Fine KD et al. Am J Gastroenterol. 2000 Aug;95(8):1974-82.
Wang et al. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg Feb; 130(2): 192-197.