oa Current Allergy & Clinical Immunology - The role of shellfish proteases in allergic diseases and inflammation

Volume 23, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1609-3607



Proteases are well-known proteins involved in the enzymatic digestion of food but also in the regulation of blood coagulation and homeostasis. However, proteases also have allergenic potential and about 60 allergens are currently characterised from plant and animal sources. IgE-mediated allergic sensitisation to allergenic proteases is well characterised for inhaled allergens such as moulds, cockroaches and mites.

However, there is growing evidence of non-IgE-mediated inflammation triggered by exogenous proteases via inhalation but also ingestion and skin contact. These proteases can activate a set of four distinct receptors (protease-activated receptors (PAR)), which are found on virtually all cells (mast cells, epithelium, eosinophils, neutrophils, monocytes-macrophages, lymphocytes, smooth muscle, endothelium, fibroblasts and neurons) involved in allergic reactions. This review outlines the different roles of proteases in allergic and inflammatory reactions.
Preliminary data from our group demonstrate for the first time the presence of four types of proteases in rock lobster and two shrimp species. Trypsin-like activity seems to be the major enzyme action in all three shellfish species, with the highest proteolytic activity occurring under physiological conditions similar to those of the lung environment. This study is the foundation for further investigations into the role of proteases in allergic and inflammatory reactions towards exposure to shellfish allergens in the occupational and domestic environment.

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