Immune responses to meat allergens (alpha-gal syndrome)

Red meat allergy or alpha-gal (galactose-α-1,3-galactose) syndrome is an allergy or sensitization against an oligosaccharide that is present in tissues of all mammals excluding humans, old world monkeys and apes.

The allergy consists of a delayed allergic reaction after eating meat which contains alpha-gal. In some situations, the reaction can lead to anaphylactic shock. Normally, humans produce IgG and IgM antibodies against α-gal which is thought to be a result of exposure to bacteria in the gut that express α-gal.

Around 10 years ago, investigators started to suspect tick-bites as the cause of the development of alpha-gal syndrome. In recent years, several studies have been conducted to further investigate this syndrome and it became apparent that alpha-gal is transmitted in the saliva of certain tick species (e.g., Ixodes ricinus, Amblyomma Americanum, etc.).

We are currently further investigating the role of ticks in the development of this allergy. For this project we regularly collect tick saliva for further studies:

More information can be found here:

This project received funding from The Austrian Science Fund (FWF) Grant number: P 33867.