Natural latex and latex-derivative proteins are the agents that induce latex allergy.
Over 250 proteins have been identified in non-ammonia-treated latex, of which about 50 are reported to have allergenic potential. Hevein and hevamin are the majority proteins.
Thus, latex is a polyallergenic compound which gives rise to multiple immune responses, as numerous as the resulting clinical manifestations.
Latex proteins are water-soluble proteins. The residual quantity in a glove varies depending on the manufacturing process.
A patient may be allergic to one or several such proteins and the allergenic potential of each varies.
In addition, while food allergy prevalence in the overall population is estimated to be between 0.1 and 7%, food sensitization is estimated to be present in 70% of latex-allergic patients.
Cross-allergies have been reported, mainly with banana, kiwi, avocado and chestnut. All these fruits and vegetables have epitopes that are common with latex although they do not belong to the same botanical family.
Any patient presenting with one or more food allergies should undergo systematic screening for latex allergy and a food allergy assessment is one of the tests to screen for latex allergy .