The spectrum of fungal allergy


Simon-Nobbe B, Denk U, Pöll V, Rid R, Breitenbach M

Date: 29 January 2008


Fungi can be found throughout the world. They may live as saprophytes, parasites or symbionts of animals and plants in indoor as well as outdoor environment. For decades, fungi belonging to the ascomycota as well as to the basidiomycota have been known to cause a broad panel of human disorders. In contrast to pollen, fungal spores and/or mycelial cells may not only cause type I allergy, the most prevalent disease caused by molds, but also a large number of other illnesses, including allergic bronchopulmonary mycoses, allergic sinusitis, hypersensitivity pneumonitis and atopic dermatitis; and, again in contrast to pollen-derived allergies, fungal allergies are frequently linked with allergic asthma. Sensitization to molds has been reported in up to 80% of asthmatic patients. Although research on fungal allergies dates back to the 19th century, major improvements in the diagnosis and therapy of mold allergy have been hampered by the fact that fungal extracts are highly variable in their protein composition due to strain variabilities, batch-to-batch variations, and by the fact that extracts may be prepared from spores and/or mycelial cells. Nonetheless, about 150 individual fungal allergens from approximately 80 mold genera have been identified in the last 20 years. First clinical studies with recombinant mold allergens have demonstrated their potency in clinical diagnosis. This review aims to give an overview of the biology of molds and diseases caused by molds in humans, as well as a detailed summary of the latest results on recombinant fungal allergens.

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