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Annu Rev Entomol. 2002;47:395-433.

Arthropod allergens and human health.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio 45435, USA.


Many species of arthropods are the sources of potent allergens that sensitize and induce IgE-mediated allergic reactions in humans. Most of these arthropod allergens are proteins, and the allergic response mechanism to these allergens is the same as it is for allergens from other sources such as plant pollens, molds, and foods. Aside from ingestion of crustaceans (shrimp, lobster), among arthropods, humans have the greatest contact with insects and mites, and as a result allergies to these two groups of arthropods have been the most frequently reported. Because of the large number of people affected by allergic reactions to stinging insects, cockroaches, and dust mites, many allergens of these organisms have been extensively studied, purified, and immunobiochemically characterized and for some recombinant allergens, produced. Cocktails of these recombinant allergens have the potential for use in diagnosis and immunotherapy. In this chapter, we review the insects and mites that induce allergic reactions. Where the information exists, the immunobiochemical characterization of the allergens and the frequency of sensitivity or clinical reactivity in the human population are also reviewed. As background, the beginning of this review includes sections that define allergens, explain the allergic reaction mechanism, and describe the methods for naming allergens.

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