Background and objective: Using an in silico allergen clustering method, we have recently shown that allergen extracts are highly cross-reactive. Here we used serological data from a multi-array IgE test based on recombinant or highly purified natural allergens to evaluate whether co-reactions are true cross-reactions or co-sensitizations by allergens with the same motifs.
Methods: The serum database consisted of 3142 samples, each tested against 103 highly purified natural or recombinant allergens. Cross-reactivity was predicted by an iterative motif-finding algorithm through sequence motifs identified in 2708 known allergens.
Results: Allergen proteins containing the same motifs cross-reacted as predicted. However, proteins with identical motifs revealed a hierarchy in the degree of cross-reaction: The more frequent an allergen was positive in the allergic population, the less frequently it was cross-reacting and vice versa. Co-sensitization was analyzed by splitting the dataset into patient groups that were most likely sensitized through geographical occurrence of allergens. Interestingly, most co-reactions are cross-reactions but not co-sensitizations.
Conclusions: The observed hierarchy of cross-reactivity may play an important role for the future management of allergic diseases.
© 2011 John Wiley & Sons A/S.