Allergenic pollen records (15 years) and sensitization in patients with respiratory allergy in Thessaloniki, Greece


Dimitrios Gioulekas
Pulmonary Department
G. P. Hospital ‘G. Papanikolaou’
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (A.U.Th.)
Mitropolitou Iosif 5
Thessaloniki 54622


Background:  Very limited allergenic pollen records exist in Greece so far; moreover, there is a lack of investigation on patient sensitization. The above data are necessary for respiratory allergy diagnosis and treatment worldwide.

Methodology:  Daily records and identification of 16 airborne pollen species were made using a Burkard trap (1987–2001). Skin sensitivity to 13 most common pollen extracts was investigated, in a sample of 1311 asthmatics with atopy, admitted to the Out-Patient Clinic for Asthma (1990–2001). Skin sensitivity to 55 allergens, including 13 pollen extracts, was detected by skin prick test.

Results:  The following pollen concentrations were recorded: cypress (24.9% of the total), oak (20.8%), wall pellitory (13.6%), olive (9.1%), pine (8.9%), grasses (6.3%), plane (5.4%), hazel (3%), goosefoot (2.5%) and poplar (1.4%). The respective percentages of birch, ragweed, mugwort, willow, alder and elm were lower than 1%. The highest counts of airborne pollen grains were detected from March to June. Regarding patient sensitization, sensitivity was detected to: grasses in 530 patients (40.4%), olive 417 (31.8%), goosefoot 240 (18.3%), wall pellitory 201 (15.3%), mugwort 198 (15.1%), plantain 194 (14.6%), cypress 166 (12.7%), hazel 126 (9.6%), pine 122 (9.3%), poplar 111 (8.4%), plane 107 (8,2%), oak 99 (7.6%) and to birch 89 patients (6.8%). The sensitivity to pollen grains displays preponderance (57.9%) to males.

Conclusions:  For the first time in Thessaloniki, Greece, 15-year allergenic pollen records were conducted. Clinical observations confirm that the pollen mainly implicated in respiratory allergy symptoms are grasses, olive and wall pellitory.