Immune reactivity against a variety of mammalian milks and plant-based milk substitutes

The research reported here seeks to evaluate the allergenicity and antigenicity of different mammalian and plant-based milks/milk substitutes in healthy subjects. We used ELISA to measure IgE and IgG antibodies against cow, goat, sheep, camel, human milks, and soy, almond, and coconut plant-based milk substitutes, as well as IgA antibodies against all these apart from human milk, in 500 individuals in order to find the percentage of antibody elevation. IgG and IgE positivity showed that human milk was the least antigenic and allergenic, followed by camel milk. Cow’s milk showed the highest percentage of elevation or reactivity. Among plant-based milk substitutes, the almond-based substitute was the most allergenic with the highest IgE reactivity, while the coconut milk substitute was lowest. For IgG and IgA immuno-reactivity, soy was first, with coconut again the lowest. We found IgE and IgG immune reactivity against coconut, almond and soymilks in some individuals who were non-reactive to mammalian milk, therefore, we should not assume that consumption of these milks is automatically without risk of allergenic response. We selected 24 samples out of the original 500 for the measurement of IgE antibodies against five different types of cow’s milk, from non-organic to organic, A1 and A2. Statistical variance analysis detected no significant difference in IgE, IgG and IgA immune reactivities of the five different cow milks. Our results showed that if an individual is immuno-reactive to cow’s milk, organic or not, the probability of reacting to goat and sheep milk is very high. Overall, the results presented here showed that for individuals allergic to cow’s milk, the least allergenic alternatives in descending order are human, camel, sheep, and goat milks. Before choosing an alternative for cow’s milk, one must go through accurate and quantitative blood testing for determination of IgE, IgG and IgA antibodies against different mammalian and plant-based milks/milk substitutes.

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