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Release of allergens as respirable aerosols: A link between grass pollen and asthma

Taylor, Philip E. and Flagan, Richard C. and Valenta, Rudolf and Glovsky, M. Michael (2002) Release of allergens as respirable aerosols: A link between grass pollen and asthma. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 109 (1). pp. 51-56. ISSN 00916749. doi:10.1067/mai.2002.120759.

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Background: Asthma incidence has long been linked to pollen, even though pollen grains are too large to penetrate into the airways where asthmatic responses originate. Pollen allergens found in small, respirable particles have been implicated in a number of asthma epidemics, particularly ones following rainfall or thunderstorms. Objective: The aim of this study was to determine how pollen allergens form the respirable aerosols necessary for triggering asthma. Methods: Flowering grasses were humidified and then dried in a controlled-environment chamber connected to a cascade impactor and an aerosol particle counter. Particles shed from the flowers were analyzed with high-resolution microscopy and immunolabeled with rabbit anti-Phl p 1 antibody, which is specific for group 1 pollen allergens. Results: Contrary to what has been reported in other published accounts, most of the pollen in this investigation remained on the open anthers of wind pollinated plants unless disturbed—eg, by wind. Increasing humidity caused anthers to close. After a cycle of wetting and drying followed by wind disturbance, grasses flowering within a chamber produced an aerosol of particles that were collected in a cascade impactor. These particles consisted of fragmented pollen cytoplasm in the size range 0.12 to 4.67 μm; they were loaded with group 1 allergens. Conclusion: Here we provide the first direct observations of the release of grass pollen allergens as respirable aerosols. They can emanate directly from the flower after a moisture-drying cycle. This could explain asthmatic responses associated with grass pollination, particularly after moist weather conditions.

Item Type:Article
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Flagan, Richard C.0000-0001-5690-770X
Additional Information:© 2002 Mosby. Received for publication July 9, 2001; revised September 27, 2001; accepted for publication October 3, 2001. Supported in part by the Sunair Children’s Foundation of Altadena, Calif.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Sunair Children's FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Grass; pollen; allergen; aerosol; asthma; air pollution
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20150818-100523961
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Official Citation:Philip E. Taylor, Richard C. Flagan, Rudolf Valenta, M.Michael Glovsky, Release of allergens as respirable aerosols: A link between grass pollen and asthma, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Volume 109, Issue 1, January 2002, Pages 51-56, ISSN 0091-6749, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:59680
Deposited By: Irina Meininger
Deposited On:20 Aug 2015 20:22
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 22:23

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