Background Ash, a wind-pollinated tree belonging to the family Oleaceae, is distributed world-wide and has been suggested as a potent allergen source in spring time.
Objective The aim of this study was to determine the profile of allergen components in ash pollen in order to refine diagnosis and therapy for patients with sensitivity to ash pollen
Methods The IgE reactivity profile of 40 ash pollen-allergic patients was determined by immunoblotting. Antibodies raised to purified pollen allergens from tree and grass pollens were used to identify cross-reactive structures in ash pollen extract. IgE immunoblot inhibition studies were performed with recombinant and natural pollen allergens to characterize ash pollen allergens and to determine the degree of cross-reactivity between pollen allergens from ash, olive, birch, grasses and weeds.
Results The allergen profile of ash pollen comprises Fra e 1, a major allergen related to the major olive allergen, Ole e 1, and to group 11 grass pollen allergens, the panallergen profilin, a two EF-hand calcium-binding protein, a pectinesterase-like molecule and an allergen sharing epitopes with group 4 grass pollen allergens. Thus, the relevant allergens of ash are primarily allergens that share epitopes with pollen allergens from other tree, grass and weed species.
Conclusions Allergic symptoms to ash pollen can be the consequence of sensitization to cross-reactive allergens from other sources. The fact that ash pollen-allergic patients can be discriminated on the basis of their specific IgE reactivity profile to highly or moderately cross-reactive allergens has implications for the selection of appropriate forms of treatment.