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Original Article


Relationship Between Airborne Pollen Counts and the Results Obtained Using 2 Diagnostic Methods: Allergen-Specific Immunoglobulin E Concentrations and Skin Prick Tests


D Rodríguez,1 I Dávila,2 E Sánchez,1 D Barber,3 F Lorente,2 J Sánchez1

1Centro Hispano-Luso de Investigaciones Agrarias (C.I.A.L.E.), Universidad de Salamanca, Villamayor (Salamanca), Spain
2Servicio de Inmunoalergia, Hospital Universitario, Salamanca, Spain
3Departamento de I+D, ALK-Abelló, Madrid, Spainl Informatics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Porto and CINTESIS (Center for Research in Health Technologies and Information Systems) Porto, Portugal

J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2011; Vol. 21(3): 222-228



Background: Patients with pollinosis show allergic symptoms related to airborne pollen levels, although this association is not always close. The use of new diagnostic techniques could improve our knowledge of this relationship.

Objective: To evaluate the relationship between pollen counts and the results obtained using 2 diagnostic techniques: the skin prick test and allergen-specific immunoglobulin E (sIgE) concentrations in serum.

Methods: Sixty-eight pollen-allergic patients were diagnosed using a combination of the high-capacity screening approach ADVIA Centaur® with a panel of 13 purified allergens and a skin prick test (SPT) with conventional extracts. Pollen levels were obtained by means of a volumetric sampler.

Results: The highest percentages of sensitization were detected for grass mixture allergens and major recombinant grass allergens (Phl p 1 and Phl p 5), followed by olive tree extracts and olive allergens (Ole e 1 and Ole e 9), in SPT and using recombinant allergens, respectively. The main pollen types registered in the atmosphere during 2006 and 2007 were Quercus, Poaceae, and Cupressaceae. A statistically significant correlation was observed between total pollen levels and median values of sIgE, especially in 2007.

Conclusion: A strong and significant positive correlation was found between pollen counts and sIgE levels. This correlation was weaker in the case of SPT and airborne pollen.

Key words: Airborne pollen. Specific IgE. SPT. Allergen.