We have investigated an electrochemical method of detecting foods that cause an allergic reaction. Rat basophilic leukaemia (RBL-1) cells were sensitized with serum from a rat that was allergic to wheat. A sample containing the protein fraction of a food was added to the cells and incubated. The cells were immobilized on a membrane filter and attached to a basalplane pyrolytic graphite electrode. When a potential was applied in the range 0–1.0 V relative to a saturated calomel electrode, an anodic peak current appeared at around 0.33 V. This peak current, attributed to serotonin, increased with time, and the maximum current (0.5 μA) was obtained 20–25 min of incubation. The response of the RBL-1 cells was specific to the protein fraction of wheat. The peak current increased linearly with increasing protein concentration in the range of 0.01–0.5 μg ml−1. These results suggest that the concentration of the protein bringing about the allergic reaction can be determined by cyclic voltammetry within 25 min. This method is more sensitive than the conventional skin tests.
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