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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2003 Feb;111(2):285-9.

Allergen detection from 11 fungal species before and after germination.

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Faculty of Medicine, Woolcock Allergen Unit, Room 461, Blackburn Building D06, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia 2006.



Allergens dispersed by airborne fungal spores play an important but poorly understood role in the underlying cause and exacerbation of asthma. Previous studies suggest that spores of Alternaria and Aspergillus release greater quantities of allergen after germination than before germination. It is unknown whether this is true of other allergenic fungi.


Our purpose was to investigate the release of allergen from a range of individual fungal spores before and after germination.


Allergen expression from spores of Alternaria alternata, Cladosporium herbarum, Aspergillus fumigatus, Botrytis cinerea, Epicoccum nigrum, Exserohilum rostratum, Penicillium chrysogenum, Stemphylium botryosum, Curvularia lunata, Trichoderma viride, and Bipolaris spicifera was examined by halogen immunoassays through the use of pooled serum IgE from patients allergic to fungus. Spores were deposited onto protein-binding membranes direct from culture. To germinate spores, samples were incubated in high humidity at room temperature for 48 hours. Ungerminated and germinated samples were then laminated with an adhesive film and immunostained by the halogen assay. The samples were examined by light microscopy, and positive counts (haloed particles) were expressed as percentages of total spores.


For 9 of 11 species, between 5.7% and 92% of spores released allergen before germination. Spores of Penicillium and Trichoderma did not release detectable allergen. After germination, all spores that germinated had allergen elution from their hyphae. Eight of 11 species showed a significant increase (P <.05) in the percentage of spores eluting detectable allergen. Localization of allergen along the hyphae varied with species, such that some eluted allergen mainly from hyphal tips and septal junctions whereas others eluted allergen along the entire length.


Increased elution of allergen after germination might be a common feature of many species of allergenic fungi. Although allergens from both spores and hyphae were recognized by human IgE, the extent to which human exposure occurs to allergens eluted from inhaled spores or from hyphae that germinate after deposition in the respiratory tract remains to be explored. The patterns of allergen expression might affect the clinical response to such exposure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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