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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1997 Dec;100(6 Pt 1):734-8.

Occupational asthma induced by garlic dust.

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Hospital Virgen de la Luz, Cuenca, Spain.



Garlic dust has not been a frequently encountered cause of IgE-mediated disease.


We report on 12 patients (all of them garlic workers) with the clinical criteria for occupational asthma.


Skin prick tests and serum-specific IgE determinations were performed with common inhalants, garlic, and other members of the Liliaceae family (onion, leek, and asparagus). Bronchial challenge test with garlic powder was performed in all patients. Garlic and onion extract proteins were separated by sodium dodecylsulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Immunoblot and IgE immunoblot inhibition analyses were performed with patients' sera on extracts of garlic, onion, and pollens of Phleum pratense and Chenopodium album.


Garlic sensitization was demonstrated by bronchial challenge test in seven patients (group 1) and ruled out in the remaining five (group 2). Clinical data were similar in both groups. The patients with garlic allergy had a mean age of 27 years, and all of them had pollen allergy; sensitization to other members of the Liliaceae family was also common. Electrophoresis of garlic extract revealed two major protein bands at approximately 12 and 54 kd. During IgE immunoblotting, the pool of sera reacted with garlic proteins mainly at 54 kd. Preincubation with onion, Phleum, and Chenopodium partially abolished the IgE binding to several allergens of garlic.


We report on seven patients in whom an occupational garlic allergy was demonstrated. Garlic allergy is relatively rare but seems to affect young subjects with pollen allergy, and sensitization to other members of the Liliaceae family is common. The results of this study confirm the presence of some structurally similar allergens in garlic, onion, and certain pollens.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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