Allergenicity and cross-reactivity of booklice (Liposcelis bostrichophila): a common household insect pest in Japan

Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2012;157(4):339-48. doi: 10.1159/000329853. Epub 2011 Nov 23.


Background: Booklice (Liposcelis bostrichophila) are a common household insect pest distributed worldwide. Particularly in Japan, they infest 'tatami' mats and are the most frequently detected insect among all detectable insects, present at a frequency of about 90% in dust samples. Although it has been hypothesized that they are an important indoor allergen, studies on their allergenicity have been limited.

Methods: To clarify the allergenicity of booklice and the cross-reactivity of this insect allergen with allergens of other insects, patients sensitized to booklice were identified from 185 Japanese adults with allergic asthma using skin tests and IgE-ELISA. IgE-inhibition analysis, immunoblotting and immunoblotting-inhibition analysis were performed using sera from these patients. Allergenic proteins contributing to specific sensitization to booklice were identified by two-dimensional electrophoresis and two-dimensional immunoblotting.

Results: The booklouse-specific IgE antibody was detected in sera from 41 patients (22% of studied patients). IgE inhibition analysis revealed that IgE reactivity to the booklouse allergen in the sera from one third of booklouse-sensitized patients was not inhibited by preincubation with extracts from any other environmental insects in this study. Immunoblotting identified a 26-kD protein from booklouse extract as the allergenic protein contributing to specific sensitization to booklice. The amino acid sequence of peptide fragments of this protein showed no homology to those of previously described allergenic proteins, indicating that this protein is a new allergen.

Conclusions: Sensitization to booklice was relatively common and specific sensitization to this insect not related to insect panallergy was indicated in this population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Allergens / isolation & purification
  • Animals
  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Bedding and Linens*
  • Cross Reactions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Insect Proteins / immunology*
  • Insect Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Insecta / immunology*
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Skin Tests
  • Smoking


  • Allergens
  • Insect Proteins
  • Immunoglobulin E