Sensitization to soybean hull allergens in subjects exposed to different levels of soybean dust inhalation in Argentina

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2000 Mar;105(3):570-6. doi: 10.1067/mai.2000.103824.


Background: Soybean hulls (SHs) have been identified as the source of aeroallergens responsible for soybean asthma outbreaks. However, the prevalence of sensitization to SH allergens in subjects from Argentina, a country where soybeans are produced, is unknown.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of sensitization to SH by in vivo and in vitro tests in subjects with asthma or allergic rhinitis and in control subjects from Argentina who have been exposed to different levels of soybean dust inhalation (SDI).

Methods: Exposure to SDI is defined as follows: (1) direct = occupational, (2) indirect = proximity to soybean fields or grain elevators, and (3) urban = urbanized areas without a known source of SDI. Two groups were studied. Group 1 consisted of 365 subjects with asthma or allergic rhinitis and group 2 (control group) of 50 healthy individuals. Subjects from both groups were classified according to their exposure to SDI. All subjects completed standard questionnaires. Prick skin tests (STs) with an SH extract and with common allergens were performed on all subjects. Specific IgE and IgG4 to SH were measured in sera of 51 of 56 subjects from group 1 who had a positive ST to SH and in all sera from group 2.

Results: Fifty-six (15.3%) subjects from group 1 and no subjects from group 2 had a positive ST to SH (wheal SH/wheal histamine >/=0.5). In group 1, positive STs to SH were 38.7%, 20.3%, and 8.2% in subjects with direct, indirect, and urban exposures, respectively (P <.001). Monosensitization to SH is absent in all subjects from group 1. The percent of subjects with positive STs to mites, pollen, and molds was highest in those with a positive ST to SH versus those with a negative ST to SH (P <.01). Asthmatic patients with a positive ST to SH, compared with those exclusively sensitized to mites, had a higher frequency of daily or weekly symptoms (59.4% vs 25.7%, respectively, P <.001) and a higher percent of glucocorticoid dependence (52.8% vs 34%, respectively, P <.01). Percent positive IgE in group 1 and group 2 were 39.2% and 10% (P <.001) and percents positive IgG4 are 27.4% and 12%, respectively (not significant). In subjects from group 1 and group 2 with direct exposure percents positive IgE are 58.3% and 13.3% (P < .001) and percents positive IgG4 were 75% and 20%, respectively (P < .02). IgG4 in group 1 was significantly higher in subjects with direct exposure compared with subjects with indirect or urban exposure.

Conclusion: This study demonstrated that there was (1) a high prevalence of sensitivity to SH in subjects with asthma or allergic rhinitis from Argentina and (2) an association between sensitivity to SH and severity of asthma and level of exposure to SDI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Air Pollutants / pharmacology
  • Allergens / immunology
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Argentina
  • Asthma / immunology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dust / analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunization
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial / immunology
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / immunology
  • Skin Tests
  • Soybeans / immunology*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Allergens
  • Dust
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin E