Allergy to guinea pigs: I Allergenic activities of extracts derived from the pelt, saliva, urine and other sources


Dr A. F. Walls, Department of Biology, York University, Heslington, York, YOI 5DD

Joan L. Longbottom, Department of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Cardiothoracic Institute, Brompton Hospital, London SW3, U.K.


Guinea pig-sensitive patients with asthma and rhinitis were skin test positive to extracts of several materials derived from guinea pigs. A radioallergosorbent test (RAST) was developed to measure serum IgE specific for the dander, urine, saliva and also for dust from the air-vent filters of a room housing guinea pigs. A strong correlation was found between positive skin test reactions, and raised serum IgE to these extracts. Furthermore, the relative allergenic potency of extracts was similar when determined by skin-prick testing and by inhibition of the RAST to guinea pig dust.

Non-guinea pig-derived extracts such as the hay, sawdust and diet had negligible activity in skin testing and RAST inhibition; and preparations of Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, house dust and rat dust did not inhibit the RAST for guinea pig room dust.

The guinea pig dust, dander, fur, urine and saliva were the more potent extracts; while whole pelt, faces and serum were considerably less active. Extracts from different sexes were not appreciably different in potency.

The results of skin testing. RAST and RAST inhibition suggest cross-allergenicity between the various extracts. Although material shed from the pelt may have been derived from saliva, or even urine, allergenic activities of urinary and salivary preparations were found to be less than those of the dander, fur or dust. This suggests that allergens have become concentrated on the pelt.