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      Characterizing Aeroallergens by Infrared Spectroscopy of Fungal Spores and Pollen


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          Fungal spores and plant pollen cause respiratory diseases in susceptible individuals, such as asthma, allergic rhinitis and hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Aeroallergen monitoring networks are an important part of treatment strategies, but unfortunately traditional analysis is time consuming and expensive. We have explored the use of infrared spectroscopy of pollen and spores for an inexpensive and rapid characterization of aeroallergens.


          The study is based on measurement of spore and pollen samples by single reflectance attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (SR-ATR FTIR). The experimental set includes 71 spore (Basidiomycota) and 121 pollen (Pinales, Fagales and Poales) samples. Along with fresh basidiospores, the study has been conducted on the archived samples collected within the last 50 years.


          The spectroscopic-based methodology enables clear spectral differentiation between pollen and spores, as well as the separation of confamiliar and congeneric species. In addition, the analysis of the scattering signals inherent in the infrared spectra indicates that the FTIR methodology offers indirect estimation of morphology of pollen and spores. The analysis of fresh and archived spores shows that chemical composition of spores is well preserved even after decades of storage, including the characteristic taxonomy-related signals. Therefore, biochemical analysis of fungal spores by FTIR could provide economical, reliable and timely methodologies for improving fungal taxonomy, as well as for fungal identification and monitoring. This proof of principle study shows the potential for using FTIR as a rapid tool in aeroallergen studies. In addition, the presented method is ready to be immediately implemented in biological and ecological studies for direct measurement of pollen and spores from flowers and sporocarps.

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          Most cited references20

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          The diagnosis and management of rhinitis: an updated practice parameter.

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            Fungal allergens.

            Airborne fungal spores occur widely and often in far greater concentrations than pollen grains. Immunoglobulin E-specific antigens (allergens) on airborne fungal spores induce type I hypersensitivity (allergic) respiratory reactions in sensitized atopic subjects, causing rhinitis and/or asthma. The prevalence of respiratory allergy to fungi is imprecisely known but is estimated at 20 to 30% of atopic (allergy-predisposed) individuals or up to 6% of the general population. Diagnosis and immunotherapy of allergy to fungi require well-characterized or standardized extracts that contain the relevant allergen(s) of the appropriate fungus. Production of standardized extracts is difficult since fungal extracts are complex mixtures and a variety of fungi are allergenic. Thus, the currently available extracts are largely nonstandardized, even uncharacterized, crude extracts. Recent significant progress in isolating and characterizing relevant fungal allergens is summarized in the present review. Particularly, some allergens from the genera Alternaria, Aspergillus, and Cladosporium are now thoroughly characterized, and allergens from several other genera, including some basidiomycetes, have also been purified. The availability of these extracts will facilitate definitive studies of fungal allergy prevalence and immunotherapy efficacy as well as enhance both the diagnosis and therapy of fungal allergy.
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              Common characteristics of upper and lower airways in rhinitis and asthma: ARIA update, in collaboration with GA(2)LEN.

              This update aimed to review the new evidence available to support or refute prior Allergic Rhinitis and its Impact on Asthma (ARIA) statements. A Medline search of publications between 2000 and 2005 was conducted, with articles selected by experts. New evidence supports previous ARIA statements, such as: (i) allergic rhinitis (AR) is a risk factor for asthma; (ii) patients with persistent rhinitis should be evaluated for asthma; (iii) most patients with asthma have rhinitis; (iv) a combined strategy should be used to treat the airways and (v) in low- to middle-income countries, a different strategy may be needed. The increased risk of asthma has also been found among sufferers from non-AR. Recent reports show AR is a global problem. Many studies demonstrated parallel increasing prevalence of asthma and rhinitis, but in regions of highest prevalence, it may be reaching a plateau. Factors associated with a reduced risk of asthma and AR have been identified, confirming previous findings of protection related to exposure to infections. Treatment of rhinitis with intranasal glucocorticosteroids, antihistamines, leukotriene antagonists or immunotherapy may reduce morbidity because of asthma. To take advantage of the paradigm of unified airways, there is a need to rationalize diagnosis and treatment to optimize management.

                Author and article information

                Role: Academic Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                13 April 2015
                : 10
                : 4
                : e0124240
                [1 ]Department of Mathematical Sciences and Technology, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås, Norway
                [2 ]Division for Marine and Environmental Research, Ruđer Bošković Institute, Zagreb, Croatia
                University of Wisconsin—Madison, UNITED STATES
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: BZ ZT AM. Performed the experiments: BZ ZT. Analyzed the data: BZ AK. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: BZ AM ZT AK. Wrote the paper: BZ AM ZT AK.

                Copyright @ 2015

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited

                : 25 November 2014
                : 10 February 2015
                Page count
                Figures: 12, Tables: 0, Pages: 22
                The European Commission through the Seventh Framework Programme, project N°. 328289 (BZ AK); The Ministry of Education, Sciences and Sports of the Republic of Croatia, projects N°. 098-0982904-2927 (BZ) and N°. 098-0982934-2719 (AM ZT). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                Data are stored in the Dryad repository ( http://datadryad.org/); Title: Data from: Characterizing aeroallergens by infrared spectroscopy of fungal spores and pollen; Data identifier: doi: 10.5061/dryad.f4v0s; Journal manuscript number: PONE-D-14-522494.



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