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Why do grass pollen patients suffer from asthma exarcerbation in autumn?

Many patients allergic to grass pollen, suffer asthma attacks in autumn, when pollen is no longer present. The research group 'Plant Allergens' from the CBGP, led by Prof. Araceli Díaz Perales, has developed a model that provides an explanation to this particular phenomenon.

Firstly, since fungal spores are abundant in autumn, the sensitization profiles from those patients with asthma symptoms were described so as to check whether patients were sensitized both to pollen and spores, since it would explain their asthma attacks in spring (pollen) and autumn (spores). This hypothesis did not explain all the cases reported, so other alternatives were explored.

The work performed by the research group at the CGBP demonstrated that (a) different fungal species were found to grow within grass straw in autumn; (b) grass straw contain allergens, which are similar to those from grass pollen, that can be recognized by pollinic patients; (c) these allergens can be bound to the surface of spores from the fungi growing in the straw; and (d) the effect of grass straw allergens with spores elicits the same symptoms in a model of mice sensitized to grass pollen that the ones elicited by grass pollen.

Thus, ‘Plant Allergens’ group suggests that patients allergic to grass pollen suffer asthma attacks in autumn because of the presence of allergens from grass straw carried by fungal spores from fungi growing within the straw. Harvesting and autumnal thunderstorms promote the lifting of soil material, allowing the allergens bound to spores to access the upper airways of pollinic patients, which elicits the asthma attacks reported despite the absence of pollen in the air.

Original Paper:

Hernández‐Ramírez, G., Pazos‐Castro, D., Torrijos, E.G., Montalvo, A.Y., Romero‐Sahagun, A., González‐Klein, Z., Jimeno‐Nogales, L., Escribese, M.M., Ortega, A.E., Nuñez‐Borque, E., Orvay, L.B., Esteban, V., Brito, F.F., Barber, D., Tome‐Amat, J., Garrido‐Arandia, M., Díaz‐Perales, A. 2020. Group 1 allergens, transported by mold spores, induce asthma exacerbation in a mouse model. Allergy. DOI: 10.1111/all.14347

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