Occupational allergy in saffron workers

Allergy. 1997 Jun;52(6):633-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.1997.tb01042.x.


Sensitization to the flower of saffron, a plant commonly grown in Spain for commercial purposes, and its clinical significance as an occupational allergen were studied. The prick test and RAST, with saffron pollen, stamen, and pistil extracts, were used to evaluate the cutaneous and specific antibody responses in the studied population. Provocation tests in patients with clinical findings were used to verify the implication of saffron components in these symptoms. Fifty saffron workers were evaluated. Three of them were sensitized to saffron pollen and stamen proteins, giving prick and RAST positive values. One patient presented asthma, showing a positive bronchial provocation test, and two patients rhinoconjunctivitis, showing positive conjunctival provocation tests. Of a general allergic population of 237, 10 patients also presented cutaneous test and IgE positive to saffron. Saffron allergens (from pollen and stamens) were characterized by SDS-PAGE immunoblotting. A relevant allergen of 15.5 kDa with profilinic nature was detected and further purified by high-resolution gel filtration chromatography. No allergenic components were demonstrated in pistils. Cross-reactivity of saffron extracts was evaluated by RAST inhibition with respect to other pollen species commonly causing sensitization in the same area of study. A significant degree of cross-reactivity was demonstrated between saffron and Lolium, Salsola, or Olea. The identification of the protein components involved in the cross-reactions was investigated by blot inhibition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / diagnosis
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / epidemiology
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / etiology*
  • Allergens / adverse effects*
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Conjunctivitis, Allergic / diagnosis
  • Conjunctivitis, Allergic / epidemiology
  • Conjunctivitis, Allergic / etiology
  • Cross Reactions
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Protein Binding / immunology
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / etiology*
  • Skin Tests
  • Spain / epidemiology
  • Spices / adverse effects*


  • Allergens
  • Immunoglobulin E