Epithelial or dandruff allergen for the diagnosis of dog allergy by RAST?


Dr T. G. Merrett, RAST Allergy Unit, Benenden Chest Hospital, Cranbrook, Kent TN17 4AX.


When used for screening by the RAST technique, dog epithelium provided too few positive results (29.2%) compared with dog dandruff (58.8%), cat epithelium (53.6%) and horse dandruff (52.2%). However, dog dandruff can provide an unexpectedly high incidence of positive RAST results (45.2%) in sera from patients with an allergic history to cat or horse, but not to dog. Dog dandruff allergens were found to cross-react with some cat or horse serum proteins in about 25% of such patients.

We conclude that dog dandruff is preferable to epithelium for screening by the RAST technique, but if emotional issues involving a family pet arise then confirmation by a trial separation is likely to be more convincing than a provocation test with a possibly non-specific allergenic extract.