Product(s) used in this publication: Reference Peptides for Targeted Proteomics - SpikeTides™ & SpikeMix™
Peanut is a major cause of severe IgE-mediated food allergic reactions, which can be exacerbated by factors, such as exercise, that may increase allergen uptake into the circulation. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) have been used to determine allergen uptake into serum, but there are concerns over their specificity and a confirmatory method is required. Mass spectrometry (MS) methods have the potential to provide rigorous alternatives for allergen determination. A suite of peptide targets representing the major clinically relevant peanut allergens previously applied in food analysis were used to develop a targeted multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) method for determination of peanut in serum. Depletion of serum using affinity chromatography was found to be essential to allow detection of the peptide targets. A comparison of triple quadrupole and Q-TOF methods showed that one Ara h 2 peptide was only detected by the Q-TOF, the other peptide targets giving similar assay sensitivities with both MS platforms, although transitions for all the peptides were detected more consistently with the Q-TOF. The Q-TOF MRM assay detected peanut from spiked serum more effectively than the triple quadrupole assay, with Ara h 3 being detected down to 3 mg total peanut protein/L of serum, comparable with an Ara h 3-specific ELISA. The poor recoveries observed for both methods are likely due to loss of peanut immune complexes during the serum depletion process. Nevertheless, the Q-TOF MRM method has much promise to confirm the uptake of peanut proteins in serum samples providing immune complexes can be disrupted effectively prior to depletion. Graphical abstract.