Mendes, C., J. Costa, A.A. Vicente, M.B.P.P. Oliveira, I. Mafra, 2019. Cashew nut allergy: Clinical relevance and allergen characterisation. Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 57(1):1-22.
Cashew plant (Anacardium occidentale L.) is the most relevant species of the Anacardium genus. It presents high economic value since it is widely used in human nutrition and in several industrial applications. Cashew nut is a well-appreciated food (belongs to the tree nut group), being widely consumed as snacks and in processed foods by the majority of world’s population. However, cashew nut is also classified as a potent allergenic food known to be responsible for triggering severe and systemic immune reactions (e.g. anaphylaxis) in sensitised/allergic individuals that often demand epinephrine treatment and hospitalisation. So far, three groups of allergenic proteins have been identified and characterised in cashew nut: Ana o 1 and Ana o 2 (cupin superfamily) and Ana o 3 (prolamin superfamily), which are all classified as major allergens. The prevalence of cashew nut allergy seems to be rising in industrialised countries with the increasing consumption of this nut. There is still no cure for cashew nut allergy, as well as for other food allergies; thus, the allergic patients are advised to eliminate it from their diets. Accordingly, when carefully choosing processed foods that are commercially available, the allergic consumers have to rely on proper food labelling. In this sense, the control of labelling compliance is much needed, which has prompted the development of proficient analytical methods for allergen analysis. In the recent years, significant research advances in cashew nut allergy have been accomplished, which are highlighted and discussed in this review.