The project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF shows that elevated ozone levels during maturation increase the protein and allergen contents of rye pollen. This points to a relationship between current environmental problems due to climate change and the rise in allergies.
It's on everyone's lips, especially during the summer months when photochemical smog engulfs the world's cities. Environmental pollution and climate change both contribute to the increasingly frequent incidences observed. While this is a major health problem in itself, there are now indications that elevated ozone levels also raise the allergen content of pollen. A team from the Medical University of Vienna and the Austrian Institute of Technology have investigated the reasons for this phenomenon.OZONE STIMULATES RYE
When the pollen was mature, it was harvested and collected for further study. It yielded very convincing results, as Prof. Valenta explains: "First, we were able to show that the higher ozone concentrations led to a marked elevation of the protein content in both cultivars. Further analysis showed that allergens of groups 1, 5 and 6 contribute to this increase, as does another allergen, profilin. Even in the second rye cultivar, increased ozone exposure during pollen maturation led to a sharp rise in group 1 allergens and profilin."ALLERGEN = ALLERGY?
However, another experiment soon provided a clear answer to this question: protein extracts from both rye cultivars were incubated with IgE antibodies from allergic patients. The results showed that the protein extracts from ozone-stressed plants reacted more strongly with the IgE antibodies, which are involved in allergic reactions, than those of the control plants, meaning that the former are more allergenic.
Consequently, the team around Prof. Valenta, Dr. Thomas Reichenauer and Prof. Verena Niederberger, managed to demonstrate in this FWF-funded project in a well controlled set of experiments that environmental problems such as rising ozone concentrations at ground level may bear some of the responsibility for the constant increase in allergic disorders in our society in recent years.
Original publication: Exposure of rye (Secale cereale) cultivars to elevated ozone levels increases the allergen content in pollen, J. Eckl-Dorna, B. Klein, T.G. Reichenauer, V. Niederberger, R. Valenta, J Allergy Clin Immunol. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2010.06.012Scientific Contact:
Medical University of Vienna | PR&D
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