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Clin Mol Allergy. 2007 Feb 9;5:2.

Assessment of allergen cross-reactivity.

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Sanquin Research and Karl Landsteiner Laboratory, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The prediction of allergen cross-reactivity is currently largely based on linear sequence data, but will soon include 3D information on homology among surface exposed residues. To evaluate procedures for these predictions, we need ways to quantitatively assess actual cross-reactivity between two allergens. Three parameters are mentioned: 1) the fraction of the epitopes that is cross-reactive; 2) the fraction of IgE that is cross-reactive; 3) the relative affinity of the interaction between IgE and the two allergens. This editorial briefly compares direct binding protocols with the often more appropriate reciprocal inhibition protocols. The latter type of protocol provides information on symmetric versus asymmetric cross-reactivity, and thus on the distinction between complete (= sensitising) allergens versus incomplete, cross-reacting allergens. The need to define the affinity threshold of the assay and a caveat on the use of serum pools are also discussed.

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