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Allergy. 2013 Jun;68(6):809-12. doi: 10.1111/all.12144. Epub 2013 May 6.

Airborne olive pollen counts are not representative of exposure to the major olive allergen Ole e 1.

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Department of Botany, Ecology and Plant Physiology, University of Córdoba, CeiA3, Córdoba, Spain.


Pollen is routinely monitored, but it is unknown whether pollen counts represent allergen exposure. We therefore simultaneously determined olive pollen and Ole e 1 in ambient air in Córdoba, Spain, and Évora, Portugal, using Hirst-type traps for pollen and high-volume cascade impactors for allergen. Pollen from different days released 12-fold different amounts of Ole e 1 per pollen (both locations P < 0.001). Average allergen release from pollen (pollen potency) was much higher in Córdoba (3.9 pg Ole e 1/pollen) than in Évora (0.8 pg Ole e 1/pollen, P = 0.004). Indeed, yearly olive pollen counts in Córdoba were 2.4 times higher than in Évora, but Ole e 1 concentrations were 7.6 times higher. When modeling the origin of the pollen, >40% of Ole e 1 exposure in Évora was explained by high-potency pollen originating from the south of Spain. Thus, olive pollen can vary substantially in allergen release, even though they are morphologically identical.

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