Background In a previous investigation, a high prevalence of allergy to sweet bell pepper pollen was found among exposed horticulture workers. Allergy to plant-derived food is often the consequence of primary sensitization to common pollen allergens.
Objective We therefore investigated the cross-reactivity between sweet bell pepper pollen and pollen from grass, birch or mugwort.
Method We selected 10 sera from greenhouse workers who had, besides specific IgE against sweet bell pepper pollen, also IgE to grass, birch or mugwort pollen. Cross-reactivity was tested by the inhibition of IgE binding to solid-phase coupled sweet bell pepper pollen extract. The 10 sera were also analysed for IgE binding to sweet bell pepper pollen by immunoblotting.
Results With these sera, no or small inhibition of IgE binding to sweet bell pepper pollen extract was observed with grass, birch and mugwort pollen. With immunoblotting, major IgE-binding structures were seen at 14, 29 and 69 kDa in sweet bell pepper pollen extract.
Conclusion The results of our study demonstrate that sweet bell pepper pollen contains allergens that have no or limited cross-reactivity with common pollen allergens. With sera from the 10 patients tested, sensitization to sweet bell pepper pollen was not the consequence of primary sensitization to common pollen allergens.
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