Identifying risk factors for exposure to culturable allergenic moulds in energy efficient homes by using highly specific monoclonal antibodies.

Author: 

Sharpe RA, Cocq KL, Nikolaou V, Osborne NJ, Thornton CR.
Environ Res. 2016 Jan;144(Pt A):32-42.

Abstract: 

The aim of this study was to determine the accuracy of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) in identifying culturable allergenic fungi present in visible mould growth in energy efficient homes, and to identify risk factors for exposure to these known allergenic fungi. Swabs were taken from fungal contaminated surfaces and culturable yeasts and moulds isolated by using mycological culture. Soluble antigens from cultures were tested by ELISA using mAbs specific to the culturable allergenic fungi Aspergillus and Penicillium spp., Ulocladium, Alternaria, and Epicoccum spp., Cladosporium spp., Fusarium spp., and Trichoderma spp. Diagnostic accuracies of the ELISA tests were determined by sequencing of the internally transcribed spacer 1 (ITS1)-5.8S-ITS2-encoding regions of recovered fungi following ELISA. There was 100% concordance between the two methods, with ELISAs providing genus-level identity and ITS sequencing providing species-level identities (210 out of 210 tested). Species of Aspergillus/Penicillium, Cladosporium, Ulocladium/Alternaria/Epicoccum, Fusarium and Trichoderma were detected in 82% of the samples. The presence of condensation was associated with an increased risk of surfaces being contaminated by Aspergillus/Penicillium spp. and Cladosporium spp., whereas moisture within the building fabric (water ingress/rising damp) was only associated with increased risk of Aspergillus/Penicillium spp. Property type and energy efficiency levels were found to moderate the risk of indoor surfaces becoming contaminated with Aspergillus/Penicillium and Cladosporium which in turn was modified by the presence of condensation, water ingress and rising damp, consistent with previous literature.