Allergenic Activity of Individual Cat Allergen Molecules

Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Nov 24;24(23):16729. doi: 10.3390/ijms242316729.


More than 10% of the world's population suffers from an immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated allergy to cats which is accompanied mainly by respiratory symptoms such as rhinitis and asthma. Several cat allergen molecules have been identified, but their allergenic activity has not been investigated in depth. Purified cat allergen molecules (Fel d 1, Fel d 2, Fel d 3, Fel d 4, Fel d 6, Fel d 7 and Fel d 8) were characterized via mass spectrometry and circular dichroism spectroscopy regarding their molecular mass and fold, respectively. Cat-allergen-specific IgE levels were quantified via ImmunoCAP measurements in IgE-sensitized subjects with (n = 37) and without (n = 20) respiratory symptoms related to cat exposure. The allergenic activity of the cat allergens was investigated by loading patients' IgE onto rat basophils expressing the human FcεRI receptor and studying the ability of different allergen concentrations to induce β-hexosaminidase release. Purified and folded cat allergens with correct masses were obtained. Cat-allergen-specific IgE levels were much higher in patients with a respiratory allergy than in patients without a respiratory allergy. Fel d 1, Fel d 2, Fel d 4 and Fel d 7 bound the highest levels of specific IgE and already-induced basophil degranulation at hundred-fold-lower concentrations than the other allergens. Fel d 1, Fel d 4 and Fel d 7 were recognized by more than 65% of patients with a respiratory allergy, whereas Fel d 2 was recognized by only 30%. Therefore, in addition to the major cat allergen Fel d 1, Fel d 4 and Fel d 7 should also be considered to be important allergens for the diagnosis and specific immunotherapy of cat allergy.

Keywords: IgE reactivity; allergenic activity; allergy; basophil activation test; cat allergen molecule; cat allergy.

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / chemistry
  • Animals
  • Asthma*
  • Basophils
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity* / diagnosis
  • Immunoglobulin E / metabolism
  • Rats


  • Allergens
  • Immunoglobulin E