From WikiMD's Food, Medicine & Wellness Encyclopedia

Cross-reactivity is a phenomenon that occurs when the immune system mistakes one antigen for another due to their structural similarities. This can lead to an immune response against substances that are not harmful, such as certain foods, pollens, and medications. Cross-reactivity is a significant concern in allergy and immunology, as it can lead to unexpected allergic reactions and complicate diagnosis and treatment.

Overview[edit | edit source]

Cross-reactivity occurs when the immune system recognizes and responds to one antigen based on its previous exposure to a different antigen that shares similar structural features. This is possible because the immune system's recognition of antigens is based on their molecular structures, not their biological functions or sources.

Causes[edit | edit source]

Cross-reactivity is primarily caused by the structural similarities between different antigens. These similarities can occur at the level of the whole molecule or just a part of it. For example, two proteins from different sources may share a similar three-dimensional shape or have similar sequences of amino acids, leading the immune system to recognize them as the same.

Implications[edit | edit source]

Cross-reactivity has important implications in allergy and immunology. It can lead to unexpected allergic reactions when a person who is allergic to one substance comes into contact with a different substance that their immune system mistakes for the allergen. This can complicate the diagnosis and treatment of allergies, as it may not be immediately apparent what substance is causing the allergic reaction.

Examples[edit | edit source]

One common example of cross-reactivity is the latex-fruit syndrome, where individuals who are allergic to latex also react to certain fruits like bananas, avocados, and kiwis. This is because the proteins in these fruits share structural similarities with the proteins in latex.

Another example is the cross-reactivity between certain pollens and foods. For instance, individuals who are allergic to birch pollen may also react to apples, carrots, and celery due to the structural similarities between the proteins in these substances.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Cross-reactivity Resources
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