Birch pollen rupture and the release of aerosols of respirable allergens

Taylor, P. E., Flagan, R. C., Miguel, A. G., Valenta, R. and Glovsky, M. M. 2004, Birch pollen rupture and the release of aerosols of respirable allergens, Clinical and experimental allergy, vol. 34, no. 10, pp. 1591-1596, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2222.2004.02078.x.

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Title Birch pollen rupture and the release of aerosols of respirable allergens
Author(s) Taylor, P. E.ORCID iD for Taylor, P. E.
Flagan, R. C.
Miguel, A. G.
Valenta, R.
Glovsky, M. M.
Journal name Clinical and experimental allergy
Volume number 34
Issue number 10
Start page 1591
End page 1596
Total pages 6
Publisher Wiley - Blackwell Publishing
Place of publication Chichester, England
Publication date 2004-10
ISSN 0954-7894
Keyword(s) birch
particulate aerosol
pollen allergens
pollen rupture
respirable particles
Summary Backgound Birch pollen allergens have been implicated as asthma triggers; however, pollen grains are too large to reach the lower airways where asthmatic reactions occur. Respirable-sized particles containing birch pollen allergens have been detected in air filters, especially after rainfall but the source of these particles has remained speculative.

Objective To determine the processes by which birch pollen allergens become airborne particles of respirable size with the potential to contribute to airways inflammation.

Methods Branches with attached male catkins were harvested and placed in a controlled emission chamber. Filtered dry air was passed through the chamber until the anthers opened, then they were humidified for 5 h and air-dried again. Flowers were disturbed by wind generated from a small electric fan. Released particles were counted, measured and collected for immuno-labelling and high-resolution microscopy.

Results Birch pollen remains on the dehisced anther and can rupture in high humidity and moisture. Fresh pollen takes as long as 3 h to rupture in water. Drying winds released an aerosol of particles from catkins. These were fragments of pollen cytoplasm that ranged in size from 30 nm to 4 μm and contained Bet v 1 allergens.

Conclusion When highly allergenic birch trees are flowering and exposed to moisture followed by drying winds they can produce particulate aerosols containing pollen allergens. These particles are small enough to deposit in the peripheral airways and have the potential to induce an inflammatory response.
Language eng
DOI 10.1111/j.1365-2222.2004.02078.x
Field of Research 059999 Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
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