Background: Latex allergy is a well-recognized health problem. The wide use of latex in daily life raised the question whether latex articles could be a source of allergens. The present study was carried out to analyse various latex mattresses for protein and allergen characterization.
Methods: Five latex foam mattresses were reduced to powder and proteins were extracted using either water or urea. The protein content of the extracts was analyzed by SDS-PAGE, IEF, 2-D gel electrophoresis and amino acid sequence analysis. The presence of specific IgE, directed toward mattress proteins found in human sera of latex-allergic patients, was tested using ELISA and immunoprints.
Results: The results showed that no protein or allergen could be extracted from synthetic foam. However, depending on the type of mattress and extraction procedure, various quantities of proteins could be extracted from mattresses containing natural latex. The ELISA levels of various latex-allergic patients were always more significant against urea extracts than against water extracts, except for one mattress. The protein and allergen patterns were qualitatively similar for all mattresses containing natural latex. Hev b 1 was identified by N-terminal amino acid sequence analysis.
Conclusion: Because the natural rubber of the mattresses contains latex allergens, these allergens are a potential source of sensitization and could constitute a risk, at least to allergic individuals.