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Keywords:

  • Key words: Apiaceae;
  • birch pollen allergy;
  • food allergy;
  • oral allergy syndrome

Asero R. Relevance of pollen-specific IgE levels to the development of Apiaceae hypersensitivity in patients with birch pollen allergy.

A large clinical/serologic study was carried out to determine the prevalence of Apiaceae ‘carrot, celery, and fennel’ hypersensitivity in patients with birch pollen allergy, and to investigate its relationship with apple and hazelnut allergy and with birch pollen-specific IgE levels. A total of 196 birch pollen-hypersensitive patients with oral allergy syndrome ‘OAS’ caused by different vegetable foods were examined in the cross-sectional part of the study. Of this total, 195 patients had apple and/or hazelnut allergy, and 103 had Apiaceae sensitivity; only one patient had Apiaceae allergy alone. Apiaceae-positive patients showed significantly higher birch pollen-specific IgE levels than negative ones ‘median 13 vs 7 AU/ml; P < 0.0001’. The prospective part of the study was performed on 103 birch pollen-hypersensitive patients who were OAS-free at the time of the first visit and were periodically followed-up for OAS. Patients who developed Apiaceae sensitivity showed much higher birch-specific IgE levels than patients who developed apple/hazelnut allergy only ‘median 15.5 vs 8.5 AU/ml; P < 0.05’, whereas those who remained OAS-free showed the lowest specific IgE levels ‘median 5 AU/ml’. This study suggests that most Apiaceae determinants cross-react with apple or hazelnut determinants, whereas only some apple or hazelnut determinants cross-react with Apiaceae-allergenic determinants; moreover, it shows that birch-specific IgE levels heavily influence the onset of OAS as a whole, and probably play a critical role in the development of allergies to distinct vegetable foods as well.