It is estimated that pollen allergies affect approximately 40% of allergic individuals. In general, tree pollen allergies are mainly elicited by allergenic trees belonging to the orders Fagales, Lamiales, Proteales, and Pinales. Over 25 years ago, the gene encoding the major birch pollen allergen Bet v 1 was the first such gene to be cloned and its product characterized. Since that time, 53 tree pollen allergens have been identified and acknowledged by the WHO/IUIS allergen nomenclature subcommittee. Molecule-based profiling of allergic sensitization has helped to elucidate the immunological connections of allergen cross-reactivity, whereas advances in biochemistry have revealed structural and functional aspects of allergenic proteins. In this review, we provide a comprehensive overview of the present knowledge of the molecular aspects of tree pollen allergens. We analyze the geographic distribution of allergenic trees, discuss factors pivotal for allergic sensitization, and describe the role of tree pollen panallergens. Novel allergenic tree species as well as tree pollen allergens are continually being identified, making research in this field highly competitive and instrumental for clinical applications.
Useful keywords (using NLM MeSH Indexing)
Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal/immunology