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Differential Characteristics of Olive Pollen From Different Cultivars: Biological and Clinical Implications


JD Alché, AJ Castro, JC Jiménez-López, S Morales, A Zafra, AM Hamman-Khalifa,* MI Rodríguez-García

Department of Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology of Plants, Estación Experimental del Zaidín, CSIC, Granada, Spain
* Department of Genetics, Faculty of Science, University of Granada, Granada, Spain

J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2007; Vol. 17, Supplement 1: 69-75



The olive tree is grown in many parts of the world. Its germplasm is very broad, with 250 varieties in Spain alone. Variations in the ability of pollen to germinate have been studied in detail and show conspicuous differences between varieties. However, commercial olive pollen from cultivars whose origin is unknown is the material that is commonly used for clinical and biological studies. We aim to assess the putative heterogeneity
of olive cultivars with regard to the presence of several pollen allergens and to determine whether these differences have biological and clinical
relevance. Previous studies show that most allergens isolated and characterized to date are highly polymorphic. Olive cultivars display wide differences in the expression levels of many allergens and in the number and molecular characteristics of the allergen isoforms expressed. These differences are maintained over the years, and are intrinsic to the genetics of each cultivar. Such broad polymorphism seems to be involved in the physiology of the olive reproductive system, which might include the adaptation of the plant to different environmental conditions, the establishment of the compatibility system, and pollen performance. The differences in allergen composition in cultivars, particularly in the Ole e 1 allergen, are responsible for the important differences in the allergenic potency of the extracts. These fi ndings could have a number of implications for the diagnosis and therapy of olive pollen allergy. We discuss how cultivar differences affect extract quality, diagnostic and therapeutic effi cacy and safety, and the development of new vaccines based on the use of recombinant allergens.

Key words: Allergens. Clinical test. Cultivar. Physiology. Olive. Pollen. Polymorphism. Variety.