Malgorzata Puc 1 1 - Department of General Botany, University of Szczecin, Felczaka 3a, 71-412 Szczecin,Poland. email@example.com Ann Agric Environ Med 2003; 10 (2): ICID: 142717
Allergy is hypersensitive reaction by the body to foreign substances (antigens)which in similar amounts and circumstances are harmless within the bodies of other people. The allergicresponse develops when the natural immune defence mechanism, responsible for the correct reaction toenvironmental agents, is disturbed. The allergens are divided into those originating from the naturalenvironment and those from a chemically contaminated environment. The most frequent allergens from thenatural environment are inhalant ones present in pollen grains, mould fungi spores and in fragments ofmycelial hyphae. The airborne allergens also include: bacteria, house dust mites, epidermis of housepets, allergens of some food products and insect venom. The allergens originating from the natural environmentare usually proteins, being high-molecular compounds of molecular weight higher than 10 kDa. Pollen allergensare water-soluble proteins or glycoproteins of molecular masses from 10-70 kDa. Many of them are resistantto pH changes and high temperature, even up to 100 degrees C. Apart from pollen grains, allergens canoccur in other parts of plants: roots, stems, leaves, seeds or fruit, in substances excreted by plants,such as juice and volatile oils, or in other bioaerosols of plant origin, e.g. fluids released duringtreatment of some crops. Proteins of some antigens show some analogies in the amino acids sequence, whichdetermine immunological similarity and cross reactivity. From among factors conducing pollen allergythe most important are genetic and environmental ones (air pollution, exposure to allergens, infectionsof respiratory tract, diet) and microflora of pollen grains.