Complement activation by commercial allergen extracts of cereal grains


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Dr S. A. Olenchock, Immunology Section, NIOSH, 944 Chestnut Ridge Road, Morgantown, WV 26505 U.S.A.


Commercial allergen extract preparations of whole cereal grains were examined in vitro for their reactivity with the human haemolytic complement cascade. Total haemolytic complement was consumed in a dose-dependent manner which did not correlate with the protein nitrogen content or bacterial endotoxin contamination of the extracts. Alternative pathway activation was shown by C3 conversion in the presence of EGTA while classical complement components C1, C4 and C2 were also much decreased in serum which was free of detectable specific antibody. Very small amounts of allergen extract initiated the formation of complement-dependent factors which were chemotactic for human polymorphonuclear leucocytes. These data suggest a potential for complement activation in vivo by ingestion, inhalation, or injection of cereal grain products.