The term weed is referring to plants used as culinary herbs and medicinal plants as well as ecologically adaptive and invasive segetal plants. In Europe, pollen of ragweed, mugwort, English plantain and pellitory are the main elicitors of weed pollen allergies. Presently, 35 weed pollen allergens have been identified. The most relevant belong to the protein families of pectate lyases, defensin-like proteins, non-specific lipid transfer proteins, and Ole e 1-like proteins. The sensitization frequency depends on geographic regions and might affect more than 50 % of pollen allergic patients in distinct regions. Due to overlapping flowering seasons, similar habitats, polysensitizations and cross-reactive (pan)-allergens, it is difficult to diagnose genuine weed pollen sensitization using pollen extracts. Marker allergens for component-resolved diagnostics are available for the important weed pollen. These are Amb a 1 (ragweed), Art v 1 (mugwort), Pla l 1 (English plantain) and Par j 2 (pellitory). Molecule-based approaches can be used to identify the primary sensitizer and thus enable selection of the appropriate weed pollen extracts for allergen immunotherapy.
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Cross-reactive carbohydrate determinants
Non-specific lipid transfer proteins
Skin prick test
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Conflict of interest
The authors state to have no conflict of interest.
The financial support by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy, the National Foundation of Research, Technology and Development and Land Salzburg is acknowledged.
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Stemeseder, T., Hemmer, W., Hawranek, T. et al. Marker allergens of weed pollen – basic considerations and diagnostic benefits in the clinical routine. Allergo J Int 23, 274–280 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40629-014-0033-1