Background Mites belong to the most frequent and potent allergen sources. Immunotherapy with mite allergen extracts is frequently performed if allergen avoidance is not possible or successful. However, highly controversial results have been reported for mite-specific immunotherapy.
Objective The aim of this study was to develop diagnostic concepts that may contribute to an improved selection of patients for immunotherapy with Der p allergen extracts and that may be used for immunological monitoring of patients undergoing this treatment.
Methods The IgE reactivity profiles to Der p extract were determined in a Middle European mite-allergic population by IgE immunoblotting and by using a panel of seven purified natural or recombinant Der p allergens (nDer p 1, nDer p 4, rDer p 2, rDer p 5, rDer p 7, rDer p 8, rDer p 10). Furthermore, we investigated the sensitization and cross-reactivity to house-dust- and storage-mite allergen extracts by CAP FEIA measurements and by IgE competition studies.
Results More than 95% of the patients could be diagnosed with a combination of nDer p 1 and rDer p 2. With the methods used, we could discriminate mite-allergic patients who were mainly sensitized to the major Der p allergens (Der p 1, Der p 2) from patients with a broad sensitization profile, including highly cross-reactive allergens (e.g. Der p 10: tropomyosin) as well as reactivity to storage mites.
Conclusions Diagnostic tests containing the major mite allergens (i.e. Der p 1, Der p 2) and highly cross-reactive mite allergens (e.g. Der p 10) may improve the diagnostic selection of patients for immunotherapy with Der p extracts. These tests may also be used for the immunological monitoring of patients undergoing immunotherapy.