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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2005 May;115(5):1043-8.

Fungal fragments and undocumented conidia function as new aeroallergen sources.

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Department of Medicine, The University of Sydney, Australia.



More than 100 genera of fungal conidia are currently recognized as sources of allergens. The contribution of other fungal genera plus airborne fungal hyphae and fragmented conidia to allergic diseases is poorly understood.


We sought to investigate the expression of allergens from airborne wild-type fungi using the Halogen immunoassay, which uses allergic serum IgE to immunostain immobilized allergens extracted from individual fungal particles.


Airborne fungi were collected onto mixed cellulose ester protein-binding membranes for 2.5 hours with volumetric air pumps. Collected fungi were incubated overnight in a humid chamber to promote the germination of conidia. The membranes were laminated with an adhesive cover slip and immunostained with an Alternaria species-sensitive serum IgE pool. The samples were examined by means of light microscopy, and positively immunostained fungal particles were classified and counted.


All air samples contained fungal hyphae that expressed soluble allergens and were significantly higher in concentration than counts of conidia of individual well-characterized allergenic genera (P < .05). Resultant immunostaining of fungal hyphae was heterogeneous, and approximately 25% of all hyphae expressed detectable allergen compared with nonstained hyphae (P < .05). Fungal conidia of 10 genera that were previously uncharacterized as allergen sources were shown to demonstrate IgE binding to expressed antigens and accounted for 8% of the total airborne conidia count.


Our analysis of wild-type fungi collected indoors presents a new paradigm of natural fungal exposure, which, in addition to commonly recognized species, implicates airborne hyphae, fragmented conidia, and the conidia of a much more diverse range of genera as airborne allergens.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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