Characteristics of cow's milk proteins including allergenic properties and methods for its reduction
More details
Hide details
Department of Cattle Breeding and Milk Evaluation, Faculty of Animal Bioengineering, University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Poland
Department of Rehabilitation, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Poland
Department of Pathophysiology, Forensic Veterinary Medicine and Administration, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Poland
Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Environmental Management and Agriculture, University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Poland
Jan Miciński   

Department of Cattle Breeding and Milk Evaluation, Faculty of Animal Bioengineering, University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Oczapowskiego 5, 10-719 Olsztyn, Poland. Tel.: +48 895 233 864; fax: +48 895 234 413.
Submission date: 2013-02-04
Acceptance date: 2013-07-08
Online publication date: 2013-07-09
Publication date: 2020-04-07
Pol. Ann. Med. 2013;20(1):69–76
Composition and hygienic quality of milk determine its nutritional value and processing suitability. However, biological quality of milk depends on the content of bioactive components, which due to its health promoting properties have a positive effect on human health. Biologically active substances present in cow's milk include proteins, peptides, amino acids, sugars, vitamins, enzymes, sterols, phospholipids and fatty acids. Among these components, several proteins (lactoferrin, β-lactoglobulin, bovine serum albumin and casein) that inhibit cancer cell growth, deserve special attention. However, cow's milk contains also approximately 30 potentially allergenic proteins. The most common bovine milk allergens are casein fractions and β-lactoglobulin naturally not present in human breast milk.

The aim of this study was to analyze the available literature on the characteristics of cow's milk proteins as allergens that may cause food allergies and identify methods of reducing their immunogenicity.

Material and methods:
On the basis of the available literature characteristics of cow's milk proteins and their effect on the occurrence of food allergy in human are presented. A review of the available methods of modification of animal proteins that may reduce its allergenicity was also conducted.

It is possible to reduce cow's milk allergenicity in the production of dairy products by thermal, enzymatic and biotechnological techniques. The majority of subjects that demonstrate intolerance of bovine milk may safely consume fermented dairy products.

Prevalence of food allergy is so high that it may be considered a disease of civilization. Therefore, attention should be paid to food technological processes that may eliminate or reduce allergenicity of cow's milk proteins.

None declared.
Adel-Patient K, Ah-Leung S, Creminon C, Nouaille S, Chatel JM, Langella P, et al. Oral administration of recombinant Lactococcus lactis expressing bovine β-lactoglobulin partially prevents mice from sensitization. Clin Exp Allergy. 2005;35(4):539–546.
Barłowska J, Litwińczuk Z. Właściwości odżywcze i prozdrowotne tłuszczu mleka [Nutritional and health benefits of milk fat]. Med Weter. 2009;65(3):171–174.
Bernatowicz E, Reklewska B. Bioaktywne składniki białkowej frakcji mleka [Bioactive compounds of milk protein fraction]. Przegl Hod. 2003;71(3):1–10.
Bertrand-Harb C, Baday A, Dalgalarrondo M, Chobert JM, Haertlé T. Thermal modifications of structure and co-denaturation of α-lactalbumin and β-lactoglobulin induce changes of solubility and susceptibility to proteases. Nahrung. 2002;46(4):283–289.
Besler M, Steinhart H, Paschke A. Stability of food allergens and allergenicity of processed foods. J Chromatogr B. 2001;756(1–2):207–228.
Bonomi F, Fiocchi A, Frøkiaer H, Gaiaschi A, Iametti S, Poiesi C, et al. Reduction of immunoreactivity of bovine β-lactoglobulin upon combined physical and proteolytic treatment. J Dairy Res. 2003;70(1):51–59.
Cabrera-Chávez F, Calderón de la Barca AM. Bovine milk intolerance in celiac disease is related to IgA reactivity to α- and β-caseins. Nutrition. 2009;25(6):715–716.
Czerwionka-Szaflarska M, Zawadzka-Gralec A. Alergia pokarmowa u niemowląt i dzieci – objawy, diagnostyka, leczenie [Food allergy in infants and children – symptoms, diagnosis, treatment]. Pol Merkur Lekarski. 2007;23(138):443–448.
Darewicz M, Dziuba B, Minkiewicz P, Dziuba J. The preventive potential of milk and colostrum proteins and protein fragments. Food Rev Int. 2011;27(4):357–388.
El-Agamy EI. The challenge of cow milk protein allergy. Small Rum Res. 2007;68(1–2):64–72.
Exl BM, Fritsche R. Cow's milk protein allergy and possible means for its prevention. Nutrition. 2001;17(7–8):642–651.
Farell HM, Jimenez-Flores R, Bleck GT, Brown EM, Butler JE, Creamer LK, et al. Nomenclature of the proteins of cow's milk – sixth revision. J Dairy Sci. 2004;87(6):1641–1674.
Feng CG, Collins AM. Pasteurisation and homogenisation of milk enchances the immunogenicity of milk plasma proteins in a rat model. Food Agric Immunol. 1999;11(3):251–258.
Fiocchi A, Restani P, Riva E, Mirri GP, Santini I, Bernardo L, et al. Heat treatment modifies the allergenicity of beef and bovine serum albumin. Allergy. 1998;53(8):798–802.
Isolauri E, Arvola T, Sütas Y, Moilanen E, Salminen S. Probiotics in the management of atopic eczema. Clin Exp Allergy. 2000;30(11):1605–1610.
Jost R, Monti JC, Pahud JJ. Whey protein allergenicity and its reduction by technological means. Food Technol. 1987;41(10):118–121.
Kristjánsson G, Venge P, Hällgren R. Mucosal reactivity to cow's milk protein in coeliac disease. Clin Exp Immunol. 2007;147(3):449–455.
Król J, Litwińczuk A, Zarajczyk A, Litwińczuk Z. Alfa- laktoalbumina i beta-laktoalbumina jako związki biologiczne czynne frakcji białkowej mleka [Alpha-lactalbumin and beta- lactalbumin as biologically active compounds of milk protein fraction]. Med Weter. 2008;64(12):1375–1378.
Kurek W, Koszelewski D. Studies on isolation and purification lovastatin hydrolase. 12th European Congress on Biotechnology (ECB 12) in Copenhagen, Denmark. J Biotechnol. 2005;118(1):116.
Leszczyńska J. Reakcje niepożądane (opaczne) na składniki pożywienia – alergeny w żywności [An adverse food reaction – food allergens]. Zesz Nauk Politech Lodz Chem SpożBiotechnol. 1999;813(61):65–75.
Lönnerdal B. Bioactive proteins in breast milk. J Paediatr Child Health. 2013;49(1):1–7.
Michalski MC, Januel C. Does homogenization affect the human health properties of cow's milk? Trends Food Sci Technol. 2006;17(8):423–437.
Miciński J, Zwierzchowski G, Kowalski I, Szarek J. Health promoting properties of selected milk components. J Elementol. 2013;18(1):165–186.
Mikulska M, Zimmer D. Immunologiczne znaczenie ludzkiego mleka [Immunological importance of human milk]. Ann Acad Med Stetin. 2006;60(5):462–466.
Minkiewicz P, Dziuba J, Gładkowska-Balewicz I. Update of the list of allergenic proteins from milk, based on local amino acid sequence identity with known epitopes from bovine milk proteins – a short report. Pol J Food Nutr Sci. 2011;61(2):153–158.
Monaci L, Tregoat V, van Hengel AJ, Anklam E. Milk allergens, their characteristics and their detection in food: a review. Eur Food Res Technol. 2006;223(2):149–179.
Nałęcz-Tarwacka T, Grodzki H, Kuczyńska B, Zdziarski K. Wpływ dawki pokarmowej na zawartość składników frakcji tłuszczowej mleka krów [Effect of ration size on content of bovine milk fat]. Med Weter. 2009;65(7):487–491.
Pełczyńska E. Białka mleka jako czynnik alergenny [Milk proteins as allergens]. Med Weter. 1996;52(12):752–754.
Pełczyńska E. Wartośćodżywcza mleka [Nutritional value of milk]. Med Weter. 1996;52(11):671–674.
Peñas E, Snel H, Floris R, Prestamo G, Gomez R. High pressure can reduce the antigenicity of bovine whey protein hydrolysates. Int Dairy J. 2006;16(9):969–975.
Pessi T, Sutas Y, Marttinen A, Isolauri E. Probiotics rein-force mucosal degradation of antigens in rats: implications for therapeutic use of probiotics. J Nutr. 1998;128(12):2313–2318.
Pietrzak-Fiećko R, Tomczyński R, Smoczyński S. Pozostałości insektycydów chloroorganicznych w mleku ludzkim i kobiecym [Residues of chlorinated carbohydrates in animal and human milk]. Med Weter. 2000;56(11):715–717.
Raksakulthai R, Haard NF. Exopeptidases and their application to reduce bitterness in food: a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2003;43(4):401–445.
Rudzki E. Alergia pokarmowa. Cz˛eśćI – Mleko krowie [Food allergy. Part I – cow's milk]. Post˛epy Dermatol Alergol. 2005;22(2):77–80.
Sathe SK, Teuber SS, Roux KH. Effects of food processing on the stability of food allergens. Biotechnol Adv. 2005;23(6):423–429.
Sazhinov GJ, Saphronova AM, Vitollo AS, Kruglic VI. Comparative study of the biological value of native milk proteins and their hydrolyzates. In: Proceedings of the Dairying in a Changing World: Posters and Brief Communications of the XXIII International Dairy Congress. Vol. I. Ottawa: Mutual Press; 1990.
Sicherer SH. Food allergy. Lancet. 2002;360(9334):701–710.
Stelmach I, Majak P, Jerzyńska J. Alergia a nietolerancja pokarmowa [Allergy and food intolerance]. Terapia. 2009;3(222):121–125.
Tauzin J, Miclo L, Gaillard J-L. Angiotensin-I-converting enzyme inhibitory peptides from tryptic hydrolysate of bovine alphaS2-casein. FEBS Lett. 2002;531(2):369–374.
UniProt Consortium. Reorganizing the protein space at the Universal Protein Resource (UniProt). Nucl Acids Res. 2012;40:71–75.
Viljanen M, Savilahti E, Haahtela T, Juntunen-Backman K, Korpela R, Poussa T, et al. Probiotics in the treatment of atopic eczema/dermatitis syndrome in infants: a double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Allergy. 2005;60(4):494–500.
Wal JM. Cow's milk allergens. Allergy. 1998;53:1013–1022.
Wąsowska-Królikowska K. Alergia pokarmowa [Food allergy]. Przegl Alergol. 2004;1(2):49–51.
Wątrobińska K, Nałęcz-Tarwacka T. Frakcje białkowe mleka krowiego [Protein fractions of bovine milk]. Przegl Mlecz. 2007;6:10–12.
Wróblewska B. Wielka ósemka alergenów pokarmowych [The big eight of food allergens]. Alergia. 2002;4(15): Accessed 30.01.13 〈
Wróblewska B, J˛edrychowski L. Wpływ modyfikacji technologicznych na zmianę mleka krowiego [Effect of technological modifications on the change of cow's milk]. Alerg Astma Immunol. 2003;8(4):157–164.
Wróblewska B. Białka pochodzenia zwierzęcego jako alergeny pokarmowe [Proteins of animal origin as food allergens]. Przem Spożyw. 2007;61(12):14–17.
Ziajka S, Dzwolak W. Alergia na białka mleka krowiego [Cow's milk protein allergy]. Żyw Człow Metab. 1994;21(3):286–292.
Ziarno M. Alergia na białka mleka a procesy technologiczne [Milk protein allergy and technological processes]. Przem Spożyw. 2006;60(7):26–28.