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Chem Immunol Allergy. 2006;91:121-33.

Fungal allergies: a yet unsolved problem.

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Swiss Institute of Allergy and Asthma Research (SIAF), Davos, Switzerland.


Airborne fungal spores have been implicated as causative factors in respiratory allergy, particularly asthma. However, the prevalence of fungal sensitization is not known mainly due to the lack of standardized fungal extracts and to the overwhelming number of fungal species able to elicit IgE-mediated reactions. Recent work based on high-throughput cloning of fungal allergens revealed that fungi are able to produce extremely complex repertoires of species-specific and cross-reactive allergens. There is evidence that fungal sensitization also contributes to auto-reactivity against self-antigens due to shared epitopes with homologous fungal allergens. Detailed studies at structural and immunological level indicate molecular mimicry as a basic mechanism involved in perpetuation of severe chronic allergic diseases. The real challenge at present is not related to cloning or production of a large number of different fungal allergens but rather to the assessment of the clinical relevance of each single structure. To date, substitution of complex extracts presently used in the diagnosis of fungal allergy by single, perfectly standardized components seems feasible in contrast to specific immunotherapy which is still not developed. Recombinant fungal allergens might create new perspectives in diagnosis and therapy of fungal allergy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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