|Systematic IUPAC name
Alpha-gal; 3-α-Galactobiose; Gal(α1-3)Gal; alpha-D-Gal-(1→3)-D-Gal
3D model (JSmol)
|Molar mass||g·mol−1 342.297|
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
Galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, commonly known as alpha gal and the Galili antigen, is a carbohydrate found in most mammalian cell membranes. It is not found in primates, including humans, who have lost the GGTA1 gene. Their immune systems recognize it as a foreign body and produce xenoreactive immunoglobulin M antibodies, leading to organ rejection after transplantation.
Anti-alpha gal immunoglobulin G antibodies are some of the most common in humans. Regular stimulation from gut flora, typically initiated within the first six months of life, leads to an exceptionally high titre of around 1% of all circulating IgG. Alpha gal has also been suggested to play a role in an IgE-specific allergic response to some meats. While this allergic response is quite well documented, there is significant discrepancy between laboratory tests and clinical findings, indicating that much research must still be done on the alpha gal mechanism of action and related tests. Recent studies are showing increasing evidence that this allergy may be induced by the bite of the lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum) in North America and the castor bean tick (Ixodes ricinus) in Sweden.
A bacterial alpha-galactosidase that efficiently removes linear alpha-gal ends from molecules has been identified. It could be useful for xenotransplantation in the future. Human reaction to alpha-gal has beneficial uses as a vaccine adjuvant and for enhancing wound healing.
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- "Bad bite: Doctors see surge of sudden meat allergies caused by ticks that are spreading in US" USNews, July 7, 2014
- Hamsten C, Starkhammar M, Tran TA, Johansson M, Bengtsson U, Ahlén G, Sällberg M, Grönlund H, van Hage M (April 2013). "Identification of galactose-α-1,3-galactose in the gastrointestinal tract of the tick Ixodes ricinus; possible relationship with red meat allergy". Allergy. 68 (4): 549–52. doi:10.1111/all.12128. PMID 23414348.
- Liu, QP; Yuan, H; Bennett, EP; Levery, SB; Nudelman, E; Spence, J; Pietz, G; Saunders, K; White, T; Olsson, ML; Henrissat, B; Sulzenbacher, G; Clausen, H (28 March 2008). "Identification of a GH110 subfamily of alpha 1,3-galactosidases: novel enzymes for removal of the alpha 3Gal xenotransplantation antigen". The Journal of biological chemistry. 283 (13): 8545–54. doi:10.1074/jbc.M709020200. PMID 18227066.
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- Mandell RB, Flick R, Staplin WR, Kaniewski LD, Carzoli AK, Manuszak RP, Wang J, Rossi GR, Vahanian NN, Link CJ (August 2009). "The αGal HyperAcute(®) Technology: enhancing immunogenicity of antiviral vaccines by exploiting the natural αGal-mediated zoonotic blockade". Zoonoses and Public Health. 56 (6–7): 391–406. doi:10.1111/j.1863-2378.2008.01191.x. PMID 19486321.