Defense PhD project mealworm- Henrike Broekman

People with shrimp allergy are often also allergic to mealworm, an alternative novel protein source for human food consumption. This was the main conclusion of the thesis by dermatologist-in-training Henrike Broekman from UMC Utrecht, who defended her research on 23rd of May. UMC Utrecht and TNO collaborated on this extensive investigation of the allergenic potential of the mealworm (Tenebrio molitor).

For this study, adult test subjects with proven shrimp allergy received a skin prick test with mealworm extracts. Some of the subjects also participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled food trial with mealworm. In this food challenge, patients with shrimp allergy received increasing amounts of mealworm proteins in a snack. Subsequently, it was investigated if and at what amount of allergen an allergic reaction occurred.

Henrike Broekman’s study showed that approximately 75 percent of patients with a known shrimp allergy are also allergic to mealworm. In addition, she established that consuming mealworm may also trigger an allergic reaction in people without food allergy in the past. Finally, there were indications that patients who are allergic to house dust mite or pollen may also be at risk to become allergic to mealworm.
The complete thesis can be found at

Following this thesis, two recently accepted papers are:

Is mealworm or shrimp allergy indicative for food allergy to insects?
Broekman HC, Knulst AC, de Jong G, Gaspari M, den Hartog Jager CF, Houben GF, Verhoeckx KC. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2017 May 12. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201601061. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 28500661

Primary respiratory and food allergy to mealworm.
Broekman HCHP, Knulst AC, den Hartog Jager CF, van Bilsen JHM, Raymakers FML, Kruizinga AG, Gaspari M, Gabriele C, Bruijnzeel-Koomen CAFM, Houben GF, Verhoeckx KCM. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2017 Mar 6. pii: S0091-6749(17)30340-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2017.01.035.

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