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Allergy. 1997 Dec;52(12):1207-14.

Effects of air pollution and other environmental factors on birch pollen allergens.

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Department of Biology, University of Turku, Finland.


To determine the effects of anthropogenic pollution on water-soluble proteins and specifically allergens in birch (Betula pendula and B. pubescens) pollen, we analyzed extracts of pollen from the pollution gradient around a factory complex (emitting sulfur oxides and heavy metals) by sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS)--polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) and IgE immunoblotting. In addition, tree density-associated shading of the tree habitat, and quantity and quality of proteins and allergens in pollen of the two birch species were studied. The two studied birch species gave identical allergen profiles even though their protein profiles differed. Distance from the factory did not affect the amount of birch pollen major allergen, Bet v 1 (17 kDa), or of two other strong allergens (23 and 36 kDa). Trees growing in shaded places had significantly stronger responses to Bet v 1 and to the 23-kDa allergen than trees growing in open or half-open environments. Thus, we propose that combined heavy metal and sulfur dioxide pollution does not have an important effect on birch pollen allergens. Instead, other factors, e.g., shading and soil properties of the tree habitat, as well as the genetic background of the tree, may have a stronger influence on the quantity and relative composition of allergens.

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