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Clin Exp Allergy. 2004 Aug;34(8):1251-8.

Sensitization to Ficus benjamina: relationship to natural rubber latex allergy and identification of foods implicated in the Ficus-fruit syndrome.

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  • 1FAZ -- Floridsdorf Allergy Centre, Vienna, Austria. science@faz.at

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Ornamental Ficus benjamina (FB) has been recognized as a new indoor allergen. Little is known about the prevalence in moderately exposed subjects and the proposed association with fruit and Hevea latex hypersensitivity.

OBJECTIVE:

To study the prevalence of FB sensitization and the relationship with Hevea latex allergy, to identify cross-reacting fruits, and to characterize the responsible allergens.

METHODS:

A skin prick test solution prepared from FB latex (200 microg/mL) was included in our routine screening programme for suspect inhalant allergy. Patients reacting with the FB extract were further skin tested with exotic fruits by the prick-to-prick method. Inhibition of fig and FB CAP by FB latex, fig (Ficus carica), kiwi, the thiolproteases ficin and papain, Hevea latex and rHev b 6.02 (hevein) was performed in selected patients.

RESULTS:

Of 2662 patients with a positive skin test to any aeroallergen, 66 (2.5%) reacted with FB. Ten patients showed isolated sensitization to FB. Although FB-positive subjects were more often co-sensitized to Hevea latex than FB-negative (10.6% vs 3.8%, P< 0.01), nearly 90% tested negative for Hevea latex. Sensitization to FB was specifically associated with positive skin tests to fresh fig (83%), dried fig (37%), kiwi fruit (28%), papaya (22%), avocado (19%), banana (15%), and pineapple (10%) (n = 54). Clinical reactions were reported mainly from fresh and dried fig and kiwi (47%, 60%, and 64%, respectively, of skin test-positive patients), including seven patients with systemic reactions (urticaria, angiooedema, asthma). CAP to fig in 11 patients with clinical fruit allergy was inhibited on average by 87% by FB latex, 89% by fresh fig, 80% by dried fig, 38% by kiwi (100 microg/mL each), and by 59% and 44% by ficin and papain (50 microg/mL), respectively. No inhibition was obtained with Hevea latex and rHev b 6.02. CAP to FB was inhibited on average by 95% by FB, 60% by fresh fig, 41% by ficin, 29% by papain, and less than 7% by rubber latex allergens.

CONCLUSIONS:

Sensitization to FB latex is found in 2.5% of atopic individuals and mostly occurs independently of Hevea latex allergy. Sensitization is commonly associated with allergic reactions to figs and other tropical fruits ('Ficus-fruit syndrome'). This cross-reactivity is mediated at least in part by thiolproteases.

PMID:
15298566
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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