Mysterious allergen in wine that causes headaches, stuffy noses identified

Last Updated: Thu, Nov 18, 2010 07:40 hrs

Scientists have identified the mysterious allergen in wine that causes headaches, stuffy noses, skin rash and other allergy symptoms.

The discovery opens to door to development of wine-making processes that minimize formation of the culprit glycoproteins and offer consumers low-allergenic wines.

Wine allergies occur in an estimated 8 percent of people worldwide. Only 1 percent of those involve sulfites, sulfur-containing substances that winemakers add to wine to prevent spoilage and also occur naturally.

But the wine components that trigger allergies in the remaining 7 percent are unclear.

Giuseppe Palmisano and colleagues suggest that glycoproteins - proteins coated with sugars produced naturally as grapes ferment - may be the culprit.

Their analysis of Italian Chardonnay uncovered 28 glycoproteins, some identified for the first time. The team found that many of the grape glycoproteins had structures similar to known allergens, including proteins that trigger allergic reactions to ragweed and latex.

The new study appears in ACS' monthly Journal of Proteome Research. (ANI)