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Original Article


Enhanced Diagnosis of Pollen Allergy Using Specific Immunoglobulin E Determination to Detect Major Allergens and Panallergens


A Orovitg,1 P Guardia,1 D Barber,2 F de la Torre,2 R Rodríguez,3 M Villalba,3 G Salcedo,4 J Monteseirin,1 J Conde1

1Regional Department of Immunology and Allergy, Hospital Universitario Virgen Macarena, Sevilla, Spain
2ALK-Abelló, S.A., Madrid, Spain
3Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Chemical Sciences, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain
4Biochemistry Unit, Biotechnology Department, E.T.S. Ingenieros Agrónomos, Universidad Politécnica, Madrid, Spain

J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2011; Vol. 21(4): 253-259



Background: Pollen is one of the main causes of allergic sensitization. It is not easy to make an etiological diagnosis of pollen-allergic patients because of the wide variety of sensitizing pollens, association with food allergy, and increasing incidence of polysensitization, which may result from the presence of allergens that are common to different species, as is the case of panallergens.

Objective: To compare the results of skin prick tests (SPT) using whole pollen extract with specific immunoglobulin (Ig) E determination for several allergens (purified panallergens included) in the diagnosis of polysensitized pollen-allergic patients.

Methods: The study sample comprised 179 pollen-sensitized patients who underwent SPT with pollen extract and allergen-specific IgE determination against different allergens.

Results: The level of concordance between the traditional diagnostic test (SPT) and IgE determination was low, especially in patients sensitized to the panallergens profilin and polcalcin. In the case of SPT, the results demonstrated that patients who are sensitized to either of these panallergens present a significantly higher number of positive results than patients who are not. However, IgE determination revealed that while patients sensitized to polcalcins are sensitized to allergens from a higher number of pollens than the rest of the sample, this is not the case in patients sensitized to profilins. On the other hand, sensitization to profilin or lipid transfer proteins was clearly associated with food allergy.

Conclusions: Sensitization to panallergens could be a confounding factor in the diagnosis of polysensitized pollen-allergic patients as well as a marker for food allergy. However, more studies are required to further investigate the role of these molecules.

Key words: Panallergens. Profilin. Lipid transfer protein. Polcalcin. Skin test. Molecular diagnosis.