oa Current Allergy & Clinical Immunology - Immunochemical characterisation of grass pollen allergens in South Africa : review article

Volume 20 Number 4
  • ISSN : 1609-3607



In the subtropical climate of South Africa, grasses of the subfamily Panicoideae are predominant. Bermuda grass has previously been shown to be an important local allergen, and IgE epitopes of Bermuda grass extracts are known to be distinct from those of the Pooid pollen extracts. The immunological relationships of the closely related Panicoid grasses, kikuyu and buffalo grass, and , another common indigenous grass, related to Bermuda were examined. More than 95% of grass-sensitive patients were found to have IgE antibodies to buffalo and pollen extracts. Inhibition of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) and immunoblots revealed that extracts of these grass pollens could significantly inhibit IgE binding to each of the pollens, kikuyu, buffalo, , and Bermuda on solid phase, but never achieved 100% inhibition, indicating that cross-reactive but also unique epitopes are present. We also identified a subset of patients who had negative radioallergosorbent tests (RASTs) to Bermuda, and minimal inhibition by Bermuda pollen extract. Buffalo and pollens are major sensitisers and should be included in South African diagnostic panels.

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