Further Reading

Lupin seed f335

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Code: w207
Latin name: Lupinus spp.
Source material: Pollen
Family: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Common names: Lupin, Lupine

Allergen Exposure

Lupin is a pea-like plant cultivated worldwide. Several hundred species of Lupinus are known, most native to the Americas. Many are grown in gardens as ornamentals. The agriculturally important species L. albus is native to Europe and has been introduced to other parts of the world, most importantly to the southeastern USA.

The Lupin is an erect annual growing to 1.2m. The plants are bushy unless in dense stands, and have coarse stems. The leaves are palmate, with 6 to 8 leaflets.

Lupin albus produces white flowers, tinged with blue, from June to July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by insects. The pods are of medium size and generally contain 3 to 5 seeds, which vary in colour from white to brown depending on the variety. Albus seeds are white with a flattened, oval shape. The seeds ripen from August to September.

Lupin is found in cultivated fields, but may escape.

Lupin is cultivated, especially in southern Europe, as an animal feed, ploughed under for its nutrients, and sold in health stores as a food item.

The seed may be cooked and eaten. The seed is also ground into flour and may be mixed with cereal flours for making bread. Some varieties have bitter seeds that contain toxic alkaloids and require leaching before they are eaten, but varieties without alkaloids have been developed. The roasted seeds can be used as a snack in much the same way as peanuts. Edible oil is obtained from the seed. The roasted seed is used as a coffee substitute.

Food allergy, asthma and occupational allergy to Lupin flour. (1, 2) See Lupin f335 for information on allergy to Lupin seed.

Allergen Exposure

No allergens from the pollen of this plant have yet been characterised. A number of allergens have been characterised in the seed. However, it has been demonstrated that stress on Lupin could activate a class-III chitinase, IF3. The protein was detected in the seed, leaves and roots. A thaumatin-like protein was also detected. The authors state that ”the ubiquitous presence of this enzyme in healthy, non-stressed tissues of L. albus cannot be explained.” The pollen was not evaluated for the presence of this allergen. (3)

A 2S albumin has been isolated from the seed but not from the pollen as yet. (4)

Potential Cross-Reactivity

An extensive cross-reactivity among the different individual species of the genus could be expected, as well as to a certain degree among members of the family Fabaceae. (5)

Clinical Experience

IgE mediated reactions

Anecdotal evidence suggests that asthma, allergic rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis are common following exposure to pollen from Lupin; however, few specific studies have been reported to date. (6) 

Compiled by Dr Harris Steinman,


  1. Crespo JF, Rodriguez J, Vives R, James JM, Reano M, Daroca P. et al. Occupational IgE-mediated allergy after exposure to lupine seed flour. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2001;108(2 Pt 1):295-7.
  2. Parisot L, Aparicio C, Moneret-Vautrin DA, Guerin L. Allergy to lupine flour. Allergy 2001;56(9):918-9.
  3. Regalado AP, Ricardo CP. Study of the intercellular fluid of healthy Lupinus albus organs. Presence of a chitinase and a thaumatin-like protein. Plant Physiol 1996;110(1):227-32.
  4. Egorov TA, Odintsova TI, Musolyamov AKh, Fido R, Tatham AS, Shewry PR. Disulphide structure of a sunflower seed albumin: conserved and variant disulphide bonds in the cereal prolamin superfamily. FEBS Lett 1996;396(2-3):285-8.
  5. Yman L. Botanical relations and immunological cross-reactions in pollen allergy. 2nd ed. Pharmacia Diagnostics AB. Uppsala. Sweden. 1982: ISBN 91-970475-09.
  6. Lavaud F, Jonvel AC, Fontaine JF, Sabouraud D, Lebargy F. Les pollinoses de proximité ne sont-elles que des cas cliniques ? Revue de la littérature à propos de cinq observations / Pollinosis of proximity: Review of the literature and report of five cases. Revue francaise d allergologie 2007;41(2):51-6.


As in all diagnostic testing, the diagnosis is made by the physican based on both test results and the patient history.