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      Animal Allergens and Their Presence in the Environment

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          Exposure to animal allergens is a major risk factor for sensitization and allergic diseases. Besides mites and cockroaches, the most important animal allergens are derived from mammals. Cat and dog allergies affect the general population; whereas, allergies to rodents or cattle is an occupational problem. Exposure to animal allergens is not limited to direct contact to animals. Based on their aerodynamic properties, mammalian allergens easily become airborne, attach to clothing and hair, and can be spread from one environment to another. For example, the major cat allergen Fel d 1 was frequently found in homes without pets and in public buildings, including schools, day-care centers, and hospitals. Allergen concentrations in a particular environment showed high variability depending on numerous factors. Assessment of allergen exposure levels is a stepwise process that involves dust collection, allergen quantification, and data analysis. Whereas a number of different dust sampling strategies are used, ELISA assays have prevailed in the last years as the standard technique for quantification of allergen concentrations. This review focuses on allergens arising from domestic, farm, and laboratory animals and describes the ubiquity of mammalian allergens in the human environment. It includes an overview of exposure assessment studies carried out in different indoor settings (homes, schools, workplaces) using numerous sampling and analytical methods and summarizes significant factors influencing exposure levels. However, methodological differences among studies have contributed to the variability of the findings and make comparisons between studies difficult. Therefore, a general standardization of methods is needed and recommended.

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          Most cited references 129

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          GA(2)LEN skin test study I: GA(2)LEN harmonization of skin prick testing: novel sensitization patterns for inhalant allergens in Europe.

          Skin prick testing is the standard for diagnosing IgE-mediated allergies. However, different allergen extracts and different testing procedures have been applied by European allergy centres. Thus, it has been difficult to compare results from different centres or studies across Europe. It was, therefore, crucial to standardize and harmonize procedures in allergy diagnosis and treatment within Europe. The Global Asthma and Allergy European Network (GA(2)LEN), with partners and collaborating centres across Europe, was in a unique position to take on this task. The current study is the first approach to implement a standardized procedure for skin prick testing in allergies against inhalant allergens with a standardized pan-European allergen panel. The study population consisted of patients who were referred to one of the 17 participating centres in 14 European countries (n = 3034, median age = 33 years). Skin prick testing and evaluation was performed with the same 18 allergens in a standardized procedure across all centres. The study clearly shows that many allergens previously regarded as untypical for some regions in Europe have been underestimated. This could partly be related to changes in mobility of patients, vegetation or climate in Europe. The results of this large pan-European study demonstrate for the first time sensitization patterns for different inhalant allergens in patients across Europe. The standardized skin prick test with the standardized allergen battery should be recommended for clinical use and research. Further EU-wide monitoring of sensitization patterns is urgently needed.
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            Indoor allergens and asthma: report of the Third International Workshop.

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              Inner City Asthma Study: relationships among sensitivity, allergen exposure, and asthma morbidity.

              Asthma-associated morbidity is rising, especially in inner city children. We evaluated the allergen sensitivities, allergen exposures, and associated morbidity for participants in the Inner City Asthma Study. We also determined geographic variations of indoor allergen levels. Nine hundred thirty-seven inner city children 5 to 11 years old with moderate to severe asthma underwent allergen skin testing. Bedroom dust samples were evaluated for Der p 1, Der f 1, Bla g 1, Fel d 1, and Can f 1. Skin test sensitivities to cockroach (69%), dust mites (62%), and molds (50%) predominated, with marked study site-specific differences. Cockroach sensitivity was highest in the Bronx, New York, and Dallas (81.2%, 78.7%, and 78.5%, respectively), and dust mite sensitivity was highest in Dallas and Seattle (83.7% and 78.0%, respectively). A majority of homes in Chicago, New York, and the Bronx had cockroach allergen levels greater than 2 U/g, and a majority of those in Dallas and Seattle had dust mite allergen levels greater than 2 microg/g. Levels of both of these allergens were influenced by housing type. Cockroach allergen levels were highest in high-rise apartments, whereas dust mite allergen levels were highest in detached homes. Children who were both sensitive and exposed to cockroach allergen had significantly more asthma symptom days, more caretaker interrupted sleep, and more school days missed than children who were not sensitive or exposed. Geographic differences in allergen exposure and sensitivity exist among inner city children. Cockroach exposure and sensitivity predominate in the Northeast, whereas dust mite exposure and sensitivity are highest in the South and Northwest. Cockroach allergen appears to have a greater effect on asthma morbidity than dust mite or pet allergen in these children.

                Author and article information

                Front Immunol
                Front Immunol
                Front. Immunol.
                Frontiers in Immunology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                03 March 2014
                : 5
                1Institute for Prevention and Occupational Medicine of the German Social Accident Insurance, Institute of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (IPA) , Bochum, Germany
                Author notes

                Edited by: Christiane Hilger, Centre de Recherche Public Santé, Luxembourg

                Reviewed by: Mark A. Suckow, University of Notre Dame, USA; Inge M. Wouters, Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Netherlands

                *Correspondence: Monika Raulf, Center of Allergology/Immunology, Institute for Prevention and Occupational Medicine of the German Social Accident Insurance, Institute of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (IPA), Bürkle-de-la-Camp-Platz 1, 44789 Bochum, Germany e-mail: raulf@ 123456ipa-dguv.de

                This article was submitted to Immunotherapies and Vaccines, a section of the journal Frontiers in Immunology.

                Copyright © 2014 Zahradnik and Raulf.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 0, Tables: 6, Equations: 0, References: 134, Pages: 21, Words: 19217
                Review Article


                horses, cattle, rodents, dogs, cats, environmental monitoring, allergen exposure, animal allergens


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