Background: Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) and mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) pollen is the main cause of allergic reactions in late summer and autumn. The differential diagnosis between ragweed and mugwort pollen allergy is a frequent problem encountered by allergologists in areas where both plants are present due to shared antigenic structures and overlapping flowering seasons.
Objective: To evaluate the sensitization pattern of weed allergic patients towards a large panel of purified allergens in the microarray format and by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
Methods: Eight ragweed and six mugwort pollen allergens were purified from natural source or expressed as recombinant proteins in Escherichia coli. Allergens were spotted on protein microarray slides or coated onto ELISA plates. Sera from 19 ragweed and/or mugwort allergic individuals were used to determine the reactivity towards single molecules in both assays.
Results: All ragweed allergic individuals were sensitized to Amb a 1, among them 30% were monosensitized to the major ragweed allergen. Art v 1 and Art v 3 were recognized by 89% of mugwort pollen-allergic patients. Extensive cross-reactivity was observed for both patient groups mainly involving the pan-allergens profilin and nonspecific lipid transfer proteins. Comparable IgE profiles were obtained with both allergen microarray and ELISA methods.
Conclusions: Molecule-based diagnosis provides essential information for the differential diagnosis between ragweed and mugwort pollen allergy and for the selection of the appropriate allergen source for specific immunotherapy.