Background: Latex allergy is largely an occupational allergy due to sensitization to natural rubber latex allergens present in a number of health care and household products. Although several purified allergens are currently available for study, information on the usefulness of these purified, native or recombinant allergens in the demonstration of specific immunoglobulin (Ig) E in the sera of patients is lacking.
Objective: To evaluate the purified latex allergens and to demonstrate specific IgE antibody in the sera of health care workers and spina bifida patients with clinical latex allergy.
Methods: Two radioallergosorbent and an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) using latex proteins Hev b 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7 along with two glove extracts and Malaysian nonammoniated latex (MNA) were evaluated to demonstrate IgE in the sera of health care workers and spina bifida with latex allergy and controls with no history of latex allergy.
Results: ELISA using the purified latex allergens demonstrated specific IgE in 32-65% health care workers and 54-100% of spina bifida patients with latex allergy. The corresponding figures for RAST were 13-48 and 23-85 for RAST-1 and 19-61 and 36-57 for RAST-2. These results were comparable with the results obtained with glove extracts and crude rubber latex proteins.
Conclusions: When used simultaneously, latex proteins Hev b 2 and Hev b 7 reacted significantly with specific serum IgE in 80% of health care workers and 92% of spina bifida patients with latex allergy by ELISA technique, while this combination gave lower positivity when the RASTs were used. By the addition of Hev b 3, specific IgE was detected in all spina bifida patients with latex allergy. Both RASTs failed to show specific IgE in the control subjects, while the ELISA showed significant latex-specific IgE in 22% of controls.