RATIONALE: Platanus species (Plane Tree and Sycamore) are associated with allergy and respiratory irritation. They produce 3 main types of bioaerosol particles: pollen, leaf hairs (stellate trichomes) and fibers from fruiting bodies. The Halogen Immunoassay, which can identify allergenic particles capable of binding specific IgE, was used to investigate IgE binding to Platanus bioaerosols. METHODS: The study was conducted in a locality where Platanus is common. Sera was collected from 10 subjects with atopy and a positive skin prick test (SPT) to Platanus allergen extract, and 10 subjects with atopy and a negative SPT to Platanus. Sera from non-atopics were used as controls. Bioaerosols were collected locally using environmental bioaerosol samplers (Burkard traps) and by direct sampling from local Platanus trees. The Halogen Immunoassay was used to identify bioaerosol particles that bound IgE present in the serum of each individual. RESULTS: Sera from all 10 Platanus SPT positive subjects contained IgE which bound to 40.4% (mean) of airborne Platanus pollen grains. Serum from only 1 of the 10 Platanus SPT negative subjects displayed IgE binding to Platanus pollen, and to only to 4% of the Platanus pollen grains identified. No IgE from any serum sample was identified as binding to Platanus trichomes or fibers from fruiting bodies. Sera from both Platanus SPT positive and negative subjects displayed IgE binding to other bioaerosols including grass, tree and weed pollen and fungal spores. CONCLUSIONS: IgE from sensitised individuals exhibits specific binding to Platanus pollen but not to Platanus trichomes or fibers from fruiting bodies.
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