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Allergy. 1988 Jan;43(1):39-48.

Allergy to rabbits. II. Identification and characterization of a major rabbit allergen.

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Department of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Brompton Hospital, London, England.


Quantitative immunoelectrophoretic techniques have been used to study the antigenic components found in extracts of dust collected from rabbit housing areas. To determine the possible source of these antigens, comparisons have been made to rabbit saliva, urine, fur and dander. Specific antisera for the rabbit extracts were raised in guinea pigs. One major component of the dust (Ag Rl) was also found in large amounts in saliva, slightly less in fur and in only minimal amounts in urine and dander. Crossed radioimmunoelectrophoresis (XRIE) of the dust, performed with sera from 14 rabbit allergic individuals who were RAST positive to rabbit saliva, urine and dust identified four IgE-binding constituents. Individual responses varied but all sera reacted with Ag Rl, identifying this as a major rabbit allergen. Dust RAST inhibition studies with rabbit dust, saliva and urine indicated saliva to be closely related to the dust. Ag Rl is a glycoprotein which appears to be very heterogeneous in nature. It produced a broad biphasic precipitin peak on immunoelectrophoresis and eluted from Sephacryl S-200 gel filtration over the molecular weight range 30-50 Kd, although a molecular weight of 17 Kd was indicated by sodium dodecyl sulphate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) and gradient gel electrophoresis. The RAST inhibition results and the antigenic similarity of saliva to the dust suggest this to be the most likely source of the major rabbit allergen, Ag Rl.

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