Detection of specific IgE antibodies in the sera of patients allergic to birch pollen using recombinant allergens Bet v 1, Bet v 2, Bet v 4: evaluation of different IgE reactivity profiles

Allergy. 2003 Sep;58(9):929-32. doi: 10.1034/j.1398-9995.2003.00245.x.


Background: Birch pollen is a significant cause of immediate hypersensitivity among susceptible subjects in temperate climates, affecting 5-54% of the population in western Europe. We examined the specific serum IgE antibodies towards recombinant allergens Bet v 1, Bet v 2 and Bet v 4 in birch-sensitive patients from the province of Cuneo, north-west Italy.

Methods: Sera were obtained from 372 patients with symptomatic birch pollen-induced allergic rhinitis and/or asthma. A subgroup of these patients suffered from oral allergy syndrome after eating apple. Their sera were evaluated for specific IgE against natural birch pollen and apple extract, as well as Bet v 1, Bet v 2 and Bet v 4 using Pharmacia CAP system (Pharmacia, Uppsala, Sweden).

Results: Of 372 patients 215 (57.80%) had serum-specific IgE towards Bet v 1. A total of 166 sera (44.62%) contained serum-specific IgE to Bet v 2, while Bet v 4 IgE reactivity was documented in 35 subjects (9.41%). Moreover, 146 (39.25%) patients were monosensitized to Bet v 1; 96 (25.81%) patients were monosensitized to Bet v 2; only four sera (1.08%) contained specific IgE towards Bet v 4. Thirty-nine sera (11.02%) did not contain specific IgE to these individual birch pollen allergens. Of course, all 372 sera (100%) had specific IgE against natural birch pollen extract, of which 162 (43.55%) contained specific IgE to apple extract (75.35% of Bet v 1 positive sera).

Conclusion: In this study we observed that three birch pollen recombinant allergens alone, could sufficiently identify 90% of birch pollen-sensitive patients. Therefore, for a more precise IgE profile of patients allergic to birch, further purified birch pollen allergens (i.e. Bet v 6, Bet v 7, Bet v 8) will be required.

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Antigens, Plant
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / immunology*
  • Contractile Proteins*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Immunoglobulin E / analysis*
  • Microfilament Proteins / immunology*
  • Plant Proteins / immunology*
  • Pollen / immunology
  • Profilins
  • Recombinant Proteins / immunology
  • Trees / immunology*


  • Allergens
  • Antigens, Plant
  • BETV4 protein, Betula pendula
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Contractile Proteins
  • Microfilament Proteins
  • Plant Proteins
  • Profilins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Bet v 1 allergen, Betula
  • Immunoglobulin E