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Concept: Ragweed


To the Editor: Changing patterns of allergic sensitization to pollens have been noted around the world among schoolchildren. We report one associated with unusual winter allergic symptoms in Switzerland. Our group has gathered information on allergic symptoms and serologic findings among 15-year-olds attending school in Grabs, a village in eastern Switzerland,(1) from 1983 through 2007.(2) We measured IgE antibodies to 103 molecular allergens (using ImmunoCAP ISAC) in serum samples obtained from 54 students in 1986 and from 46 students in 2006.(3) In 2010, we retested 12 of the former students (then 39 years old) who in 1986 had had positive . . .

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Asthma, Immunology, Immunoglobulin E, Allergy, Ragweed, October 12


Ophraella communa LeSage (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) is an important biological control agent of the common ragweed, Ambrosia artemisiifolia L., in China. Development and fecundity of O. communa, and hatch rate of progeny eggs were studied at five photoperiods (8:16, 10:14, 12:12, 14:10, and 16:8 [L:D] h). The highest survival rate of eggs was 92% at the photoperiod of 16:8 (L:D) h, and those of both larvae and pupae were observed at the photoperiod of 14:10 (L:D) h (85 and 96%). The shortest developmental durations of larvae and pupae were observed at photoperiods of 14:10 and 16:8 (L:D) h. Fecundity was 1,159-1,976 eggs per female from photoperiods of 8:16 to 16:8 (L:D) h. The hatch rates of progeny eggs were 67-92% from photoperiods of 8:16 to 16:8 (L:D) h, and photoperiods did not affect developmental duration of progeny eggs. The intrinsic rate for increase ®, the net reproductive rate (R0), and the finite rate of increase (λ) reached the maximum values at 16:8 (L:D) h (0.2219 d(-1), 721 hatched eggs and 1.2484 d(-1), respectively) and 14:10 (L:D) h (0.2133 d(-1), 605.6 hatched eggs and 1.2378 d(-1), respectively). Their minimum values were observed at the photoperiod of 8:16 (L:D) h, which were 0.1731 d(-1), 212.2 hatched eggs and 0.1890 d(-1), respectively. The shortest T value was 29.7 d at a photoperiod of 16:8 (L:D) h and the longest was 31.4 d at a photoperiod of 12:12 (L:D) h. Our study shows that O. communa could survive and reproduce successfully at different photoperiods, thus may expand its distribution to regions with different photoperiods.

Concepts: Insect, Developmental biology, Beetle, Biological pest control, Common cold, Ragweed, Ambrosia artemisiifolia, Ambrosia


In patients with respiratory allergy, cross-reactivity between aeroallergens and foods may induce food allergy, symptoms ranging from oral allergy syndrome to severe anaphylaxis. Clinical entities due to IgE sensitization to cross-reactive aeroallergen and food allergen components are described for many sources of plant origin (pollen-food syndromes and associations, such as birch-apple, cypress-peach and celery-mugwort-spice syndromes, and mugwort-peach, mugwort-chamomile, mugwort-mustard, ragweed-melon-banana, goosefoot-melon associations), fungal origin (Alternaria-spinach syndrome), and invertebrate, mammalian or avian origin (mite-shrimp, cat-pork, and bird-egg syndromes). Clinical cases of allergic reactions to ingestion of food products containing pollen grains of specific plants, in patients with respiratory allergy to Asteraceae pollen, especially mugwort and ragweed, are also mentioned, for honey, royal jelly and bee polen dietary supplements, along with allergic reactions to foods contaminated with mites or fungi in patients with respiratory allergy to these aeroallergens. Medical history and diagnosis approach may be guided by the knowledge about the diverse cross-reacting allergens involved, and by the understanding of these clinical entities which may vary significantly or may be overlapping. The association between primary IgE sensitization with respiratory symptoms to inhaled allergens and food allergy due to cross-reactive allergen components is important to assess in allergy practice. The use of molecular-based diagnosis improves the understanding of clinically relevant IgE sensitization to cross-reactive allergen components from aeroallergen sources and foods.

Concepts: Immune system, Asthma, Allergy, Food, Food allergy, Pollen, Allergology, Ragweed


BACKGROUND: Azelastine has been shown to be effective against seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR). The Environmental Exposure Unit (EEU) is a validated model of experimental SAR. The objective of this double-blind, four-way crossover study was to evaluate the onset of action of azelastine nasal spray, versus the oral antihistamines loratadine 10 mg and cetirizine 10 mg in the relief of the symptoms of SAR. METHODS: 70 participants, aged 18-65, were randomized to receive azelastine nasal spray, cetirizine, loratadine, or placebo after controlled ragweed pollen exposure in the EEU. Symptoms were evaluated using the total nasal symptom score (TNSS). The primary efficacy parameter was the onset of action as measured by the change from baseline in TNSS. RESULTS: Azelastine displayed a statistically significant improvement in TNSS compared with placebo at all time points from 15 minutes through 6 hours post dose. Azelastine, cetirizine, and loratadine reduced TNSS compared to placebo with an onset of action of 15 (p < 0.001), 60 (p = 0.015), and 75 (p = 0.034) minutes, respectively. The overall assessment of efficacy was rated as good or very good by 46% of the participants for azelastine, 51% of the participants for cetirizine, and 30% of the participants for loratadine compared to 18% of the participants for placebo. CONCLUSIONS: Azelastine's onset of action for symptom relief was faster than that of cetirizine and loratadine. The overall participant satisfaction in treatment with azelastine is comparable to cetirizine and statistically superior to loratadine. These results suggest that azelastine may be preferential to oral antihistamines for the rapid relief of SAR symptoms.

Concepts: Disease, Allergy, Symptoms, Symptom, Rhinitis, Ragweed, Azelastine


Ragweed pollen is the main cause of allergenic diseases in Northern America and the weed has become a spreading neophyte in Europe. Climate change and air pollution is speculated to affect the allergenic potential of pollen. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of NO2 , a major air pollutant, under controlled conditions, on the allergenicity of ragweed pollen. Ragweed was exposed to different levels of NO2 throughout the entire growing season, and its pollen further analysed. Spectroscopic analysis showed increased outer cell wall polymers and decreased amounts of pectin. Proteome studies using 2D-difference gel electrophoresis and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry indicated increased amounts of several Amb a 1 isoforms and of another allergen with great homology to enolase Hev b 9 from rubber tree. Analysis of protein S-nitrosylation identified nitrosylated proteins in pollen from both conditions, including Amb a 1 isoforms. However, elevated NO2 significantly enhanced the overall nitrosylation. Finally, we demonstrated increased overall pollen allergenicity by immunoblotting using ragweed antisera, showing a significantly higher allergenicity for Amb a 1. The data highlight a direct influence of elevated NO2 on the increased allergenicity of ragweed pollen and a direct correlation with an increased risk for human health. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Protein, Spectroscopy, Molecular biology, Gel electrophoresis, Allergen, Copyright, Ragweed, Ambrosia artemisiifolia


In this video Q&A, we talk to Dr Alfred William Frankland about the highlights of his career, including working alongside Sir Alexander Fleming, co-founding the British Allergy Society, and introducing pollen counts to UK weather forecasts. We also discuss his opinions on why misconceptions about allergies and allergen immunotherapy still exist.Please see related article:

Concepts: Asthma, Immunology, Allergy, Penicillin, Allergen immunotherapy, Ragweed, Alexander Fleming, St Mary's Hospital, London


Ambrosia artemisiifolia L. is an invasive species with highly allergenic pollens. Ragweed originates from North America, but it also occurs and is spreading in Europe, causing seasonal allergic rhinitis for millions of people. Recently, the herb of A. artemisiifolia has gained popularity as medicinal plant and food. The effects of its long-term intake are unknown; there are no toxicological data to support the safe use of this plant. The aim of our study was to assess the repeated dose toxicity of A. artemisiifolia on animals. Ragweed puree was administered in low dose (500 mg/kg b. w.) and high dose (1000 mg/kg b. w.) to male Wistar rats according to 407 OECD Guidelines for the Testing of Chemicals. Clinical symptoms, various blood chemical parameters, body weight and organ weights of the rats were measured. Reduced liver function enzymes (AST, ALT), reduced triglyceride level in the low dose and increased carbamide level in the high dose group were observed. The weight of the liver relative to body weight was significantly reduced in both groups, while the brain weight relative to body weight was significantly elevated in both groups. According to our results, the repeated use of ragweed resulted in toxic effects in rats and these results question the safety of long-term human consumption of common ragweed.

Concepts: Asthma, Liver, Allergy, Toxicology, Toxicity, Poison, Ragweed, Ambrosia artemisiifolia


B cells play a central role in IgE-mediated allergies. In damaged airway epithelium they are exposed directly to aeroallergens. We aimed to assess whether direct exposure of B cells to pollen constituents affects allergic sensitization.

Concepts: Immune system, Asthma, Allergy, Atopy, Ragweed


To date, most studies of the “allergy epidemic” have been based on self-reported data. There is still limited knowledge on time trends in allergic sensitization, especially among adults.

Concepts: Asthma, Allergy, Pollen, Ragweed


Migraine is a common primary headache disorder. The mechanisms underlying the onset of a migraine attack are not completely understood. Environmental changes and a number of other factors could induce migraine attacks. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between the frequency of migraine attacks and allergens. Migraine patients without aura, and healthy individuals similar in age and gender without a history of headache and allergy were prospectively included in the study. The duration of migraine, the frequency of migraine attacks, the medication history, and the symptoms during attacks were questioned. Migraine disability assessment score (MIDAS) and visual analog scale (VAS) scores were obtained. Allergen extracts including dust, fungi, insect, animal epithelium, pollens, and food allergens were applied for allergy tests. 49 migraine patients and 49 healthy individuals were enrolled in the study. There was no significant difference in terms of age and gender. The median migraine disease duration, the number of attacks in a month, and the duration of attacks were, respectively, 5.5 years (1-44), 4 (1-10) day/month, and 24 (4-72) h. The mean MIDAS grade was 2.45 ± 0.14 (1-4), and mean VAS score was 7.89 ± 0.27 (4-10). The positivity of allergy tests was 55.1 % (27/49) in the migraine group and 32.7 % (16/49) in the control group (p < 0.05). The allergy tests were positive for house dust, red birch, hazel tree, olive tree, nettle, and wheat. The frequency of migraine attacks was higher in allergy-test-positive patients than in negative ones in the migraine group (p = 0.001). The migraine patients who had frequent attacks should be examined for allergies.

Concepts: Asthma, Atopy, Arithmetic mean, Birch, Food allergy, Headache, Allergen immunotherapy, Ragweed