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Abstract

High exposure to pollen from ornamental flowers can induce an IgE-mediated occupational allergy in florists and horticulture workers. We investigated IgE-binding antigens in chrysanthemum, freesia and gerbera pollen by immunoblot analysis and analysed the cross-reactivity of these pollen with birch, grass and mugwort pollen. In immunoblots with chrysanthemum pollen, major IgE-binding structures were seen with a molecular weight (MW) of approximately 25, 45 and 65 kD. In the immunoblots with freesia pollen, IgE from freesia pollen was directed against two proteins with an MW of approximately 15 kD. Most sera showed IgE binding to an approximately 15 kD band in gerbera pollen; with some sera additional bands were seen in the range of 30–50 kD. IgE binding to chrysanthemum pollen was inhibited by mugwort pollen only, whereas IgE binding to freesia pollen was suppressed by birch, grass and mugwort pollen. The inhibitory activity of birch and grass pollen extract on IgE binding to gerbera pollen extract was serum dependent and ranged from no inhibition to complete inhibition. Occupational exposure to many different flowers induced IgE against all three types of pollen. Exposure in greenhouses to gerbera flowers elicited mainly IgE against gerbera pollen. Mugwort pollen extract inhibited IgE binding to pollen from all three flowers.