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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1991 Dec;88(6):919-26.

Airborne dust mite allergens: comparison of group II allergens with group I mite allergen and cat-allergen Fel d I.

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University of Virginia, Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Charlottesville 22908.


The form in which allergens become airborne is important because it may influence both symptoms caused by allergen exposure and methods used to reduce exposure. The group I allergens from dust mites only become airborne during disturbance and fall rapidly, which is in keeping with their being carried on fecal pellets. Their mean size is approximately 20 microns in diameter. By contrast, the cat-allergen Fel d I is airborne on particles varying from greater than 10 to less than 2 microns in diameter, some of which remain airborne even without disturbance. A second group of mite allergens, molecular weight 14,000, are equally important and are associated predominantly with mite bodies. With a monoclonal antibody-based assay and a cascade impactor, we have investigated the form in which group II mite allergens become airborne. The results reveal that these allergens only become airborne during disturbance and that they fall within 15 minutes. However, the mean size of particles carrying group II allergens appears to be slightly smaller than the mean size of particles carrying group I allergens. In addition, the quantities of group II allergen becoming airborne during disturbance (mean, 26 ng/m3) could not be explained by the quantity found in fecal particles. Thus, group II mite allergens become airborne in a form quite distinct from cat allergens and very similar to group I mite allergens; however, it appears unlikely that fecal particles are the main form in which group II allergens become airborne.

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