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Some pollens are much more aggressive than others
Date:5/21/2012

From Finland to Italy and from Spain to Lithuania, thirteen research institutes from eleven European countries took part in the three-year Hialine study. The coordinator was Professor Dr Jeroen Buters of TUM's Chair of Molecular Allergology and the Center of Allergy & Environment (ZAUM). The mission was to study the three main causes of hay fever in Europe, i.e. the pollen (germ cells) of birch trees, grass and olive plants. Sufferers develop allergic symptoms when they come in contact with the allergen to which they are sensitized. Up until now, the only way to ascertain how seriously patients will be affected is by measuring the airborne pollen concentration.

However, this method gives very little indication of how aggressive the pollens are. Depending on their level of maturation, the pollens of a particular plant species not only produce different allergens, but the number of allergenic proteins present also varies. The researchers were therefore keen to find the connection between pollen count and amount of allergens released. They focused on the main allergen found in each of the three plant species: Bet v 1 (birch), Phl p 5 (grass) and Ole e 1 (olive). They discovered that the pollen count aligns closely with the number of allergens released.

However, some striking differences were noticed on certain days and at particular measuring stations, as study director Jeroen Buters explains: "The allergic potential varied by a factor of 10. In other words up to ten times more allergens were released on the 'intense' days than at other times." On comparison of the levels at the various measuring locations in Europe, the researchers noticed the greatest fluctuations in the grass pollens. With seven times the number of Phl p 5 allergens, the grass pollens in France were significantly more aggressive than those in Portugal. The birch pollens, by contrast, showed smaller variations. Interestingly, geographical distance seems to have played only a m
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Contact: Barbara Wankerl
wankerl@zv.tum.de
49-892-892-2562
Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Source:Eurekalert

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