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Cyanobacteria: An unrecognized ubiquitous sensitizing allergen?

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This study was designed to investigate the prevalence of skin sensitization using detoxified cyanobacterial reagents in a chronic rhinitis population. Subjects ≥6 years of age who presented for allergy consultation to a community allergy practice and required skin-prick testing (SPT) to common seasonal and perennial aeroallergens were enrolled after signing an informed consent. Detoxified cyanobacteria species were used for skin testing. Skin testing of unexposed, nonsensitized control subjects using these detoxified cyanobacterial skin test reagents was performed to identify irritant threshold responses. All subjects signed an Institutional Review Board‐approved informed consent before participation. Two hundred fifty-nine patients ranging in age between 7 and 78 years old underwent testing. The majority were white female patients and over two-thirds (73.4%) were atopic. Seventy-four (28.6% of the population) patients were SPT+ to at least one of the cyanobacteria species. Positive SPTs were present in 86% of patients to Microcystis aeruginosa and 12% of patients to Aphanizomenon-flos aquae. There was a strong association between severity of atopy (number of positive SPTs), having allergic rhinitis and sensitization to one or more cyanobacteria species (p < 0.001). This is the first study to show that cyanobacterial allergenicity resides in nontoxin-containing components of this organism.
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Keywords: Aphanizomenon-flos aquae; IgE mediated; Microcystis aeruginosa; chronic rhinitis; cyanobacteria; detoxified; sensitization

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Immunology/Allergy Section, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma and by having the potential to directly impact the quality of patient care. AAP welcomes the submission of original works including peer-reviewed original research and clinical trial results. Additionally, as the official journal of the Eastern Allergy Conference (EAC), AAP will publish content from EAC poster sessions as well as review articles derived from EAC lectures.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

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    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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