One Year in the Extreme Isolation of Antarctica-Is This Enough to Modulate an "Allergic" Sensitization?

Biomedicines. 2022 Feb 15;10(2):448. doi: 10.3390/biomedicines10020448.


(1) Background: After spending a year wintering in Antarctica, individual expedition members have reported increased or even new allergic reactions to environmental allergens after their return. (2) Methods: Blood samples from five overwintering crews were analyzed using the chip based multiplex ALEX Allergy Explorer (MacroArray Diagnostics GmbH, Austria). (3) Results: About one third of the 39 participants displayed specific IgEs against pollen. In most individuals, kinetics showed a reduction in the specific IgE at the time about nine months after deployment to Antarctica. Five participants had the highest specific IgE levels after returning to the "normal" world. The examination of the specific IgE relative to house dust mites and storage mites showed different kinetics. Six out of 10 had the highest specific IgE concentrations at the inner Antarctic measurement time point. These data corresponded well to the general situation in the stations. At the stations themselves, there were almost no pollen particle load, especially at Concordia. (4) Conclusions: Antarctic long-term confinement can induce an altered immune function, which is in some individuals pronounced after return to the familiar allergen environment. Future prospective studies in larger cohorts are needed to further specify these first results.

Keywords: Antarctica; allergy; chip-based multiplex assay; immune system; sensitization; space mission like confinement.