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Allergens are low-molecular-weight proteins capable of inducing IgE antibody and triggering an allergic response. For those with an atopic predisposition, exposure to these environmental allergens causes not only the immunological sensitization required for the development of atopic disease but also the provocation of acute symptoms and the maintenance of chronic symptoms. Several allergenic proteins usually are derived from any specific allergenic source (e.g., several proteins derived from grass pollen are allergenic). When a particular protein is recognized by IgE antibody from more than half of individuals allergic to the source, it is termed a major allergen. The major allergens are named with the first three letters of the genus and then the first letter of the species name followed by a group designation. Examples include Amb a 1 (Ambrosia artemisiifolia—ragweed), Lol p 1 (Lolium perenne—ryegrass); and Fel d 1 (Fells domesticus—domestic cat). For many allergenic proteins, DNA sequences are known and allergenic epitopes—sites on the protein binding IgE antibody and/or T cell receptors—have been delineated. It has become evident that allergic sensitization to particular proteins is not only related to environmental exposure but also, in part, dependent upon individual human leukocyte antigen (HLA) molecules that play a role in processing these allergens and presenting them to the immune system.
KeywordsPollen Season Grass Pollen House Dust Mite Major Allergen Allergenic Protein
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