Clinical & Experimental Allergy

Prevention of latex allergy by selection of low-allergen gloves


Valenta Molecular Immunopathology Group, Institute of General and Experimental Pathology, General Hospital, University of Vienna, Währinger Gürtel 18-20, A-1090 Vienna, Austria.



In recent years the prevalence of type I allergy to latex has continuously increased, in particular among healthcare workers, to about 10%. While most forms of type I allergy caused by other environmental allergens can be treated by pharmacotherapy or specific immunotherapy, minimizing exposure to latex proteins may represent an effective preventive measure for latex allergy.


To investigate whether it is possible to select by in vitro and in vivo testing low-allergen latex gloves for prevention of latex allergy.


We obtained separate extracts by standard aqueous extraction from the inner and outer surfaces of 15 different commonly used (10 examination, five surgical) glove brands. The extracts were analysed by quantitative (bicinchoninic protein assay, immunoglobulin [Ig] E-ELISA, ELISA competition) and qualitative (SDS-PAGE, silver staining, IgE immunoblotting) methods for their protein and allergen contents. In addition, the glove extracts were analysed for their capacity to induce basophil histamine release and immediate skin reactions.


Extracts from different glove brands contained cross-reactive IgE epitopes. However, IgE binding studies, basophil histamine release and skin testing showed that different glove brands and their inner and outer surfaces contained widely varying protein and allergen contents. While the determination of total protein contents was not sufficient to identify low-allergen gloves, IgE measurements, basophil histamine release and skin testing were in good agreement and allowed to select low-allergen products.


We suggest the use of low-allergen latex products identified by IgE binding, basophil histamine release assays and skin testing as a feasible preventive measure for latex allergy.