Background: Complementary DNAs coding for the major timothy grass pollen (Phleum pratense) allergens Phl p 1, Phl p 2, and Phl p 5 and birch profilin were isolated, expressed as recombinant nonfusion proteins in Escherichia coli, and purified.
Objective: In this study the in vitro IgE-binding capacity of recombinant Phl p 1, Phl p 2, Phl p 5, and birch profilin and their IgE recognition frequencies were investigated by using sera from different populations.
Methods: One hundred eighty-three sera from patients allergic to grass pollen were obtained from different populations in Europe, Japan, and Canada. The sera were selected according to clinical criteria, skin testing, and RAST (CAP system; Pharmacia, Uppsala, Sweden) and then tested for IgE reactivity with natural and purified recombinant timothy grass pollen allergens by ELISA and Western blot.
Results: Most (94.5%) of the patients allergic to grass pollen could be diagnosed with a combination of recombinant Phl p 1, Phl p 2, Phl p 5, and profilin by means of ELISA. Sera that did not react with the recombinant allergens contained low levels of timothy grass pollen-specific IgE. Although considerable variability in IgE recognition frequency of the recombinant allergens was observed in certain populations, a good correlation was found between natural timothy CAP results and the combination of recombinant allergens in all 183 tested sera (r = 0.87).
Conclusions: Despite considerable variability in the IgE recognition frequency, purified recombinant timothy grass pollen allergens (Phl p 1, Phl p 2, Phl p 5) and profilin permitted successful in vitro diagnosis of grass pollen allergy in 94.5% of allergic individuals from different populations. The addition of other recombinant allergens (e.g., recombinant Phl p 4) would only slightly improve the in vitro test sensitivity.