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Keywords:

  • allergens;
  • allergic asthma;
  • Bet v 1;
  • birch pollen;
  • micronic particles;
  • respirable fine particles;
  • starch granules

Background: Birch-pollen allergens are an important cause of early spring hay fever and allergic asthma. Recently, we reported a mechanism for the release of respirable allergenic particles from birch pollen containing the major allergen Bet v 1. In this study, we aimed to assess the immunologic significance of the released Bet v 1-containing starch granules in the environment.

Methods: A two-site monoclonal antibody-based assay (ELISA) was employed to quantitate Bet v 1 in high-volume air sampler filter extracts, and immunogold-labelling was used on sections of these extracts to localize Bet v 1. Immunoblot analyses were performed with pooled sera from patients sensitive to birch pollen.

Results: Atmospheric starch granules contained Bet v 1, and the concentration increased upon light rainfall. Sera from patients allergic to birch allergens recognized extracts from isolated starch granules.

Conclusions: The clinical implications of these findings are that starch granules released from birch pollen are potentially able to trigger allergic asthmatic reactions to Bet v 1, since the allergen occurs in respirable particles. Thus, clinicians can advise asthma patients to remain indoors on days of light rainfall during the birch-pollen season to avoid high levels of allergen exposure.