Complex enzyme treatment significantly reduces the allergenicity of bee pollen

Bees collect rape pollen and nectar. Photo courtesy of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences

Recently, the bee product quality and risk assessment team of the Institute of Bee of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences has made important progress in the study of the allergen recognition and enzyme treatment and desensitization mechanism of chinese cabbage-type rape bee pollen. The results were published online in Food Research International.

Bee pollen is a clump formed by bees adding nectar and salivary gland secretions to the pollen grains they collect. Bee pollen is rich in nutrients and has high edible and medicinal value. However, due to the potential allergen and sensitization risks of bee pollen, the development and utilization of bee pollen are restricted to a certain extent.

The study used pectinase, cellulase and papain to enzymatically treat cabbage bee pollen, followed by mass spectrometry-based proteomic analysis methods that identified five potential pre-allergenic fibrin, cystatin, ethanol dehydrogenase, glyolytic gluten, and dilated protein in the samples, and predicted their antigenic epitopes using bioinformatics methods.

Metabolomics analysis of cabbage-type rapeseed pollen showed that the contents of three potential sensitization proteins in the enzyme-treated bee pollen samples— profibrin, cystazin, and ethanol dehydrogenase—were significantly reduced compared with the unenzymatic samples, and the content of oligopeptides and amino acids in the principal components was significantly increased.

The results of the western blotting experiment showed that the binding ability of the bee pollen protein extracted after the enzyme treatment to the specific immunoglobulin antibody was also significantly reduced, indicating that the allergenicity of the cabbage-type rapeseed pollen after the enzyme treatment was significantly reduced.

Studies have proved that the complex enzyme treatment can significantly reduce the allergenicity of cabbage-type rape bee pollen, while also having a more positive impact on its nutritional properties, providing a scientific basis for improving the safety of bee pollen products and promoting their wider application.

The research has been funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Science and Technology Innovation Project of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. (Source: China Science Daily, Li Chen, Yang Yuhui)

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