Skip to main content

Marker allergens of weed pollen – basic considerations and diagnostic benefits in the clinical routine

Part 16 of the Series Molecular Allergology


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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2



Allergen immunotherapy


Cross-reactive carbohydrate determinants


Immunoglobulin E


Non-specific lipid transfer proteins




Skin prick test


  1. Ziska L, Knowlton K, Rogers C, Dalan D, Tierney N, Elder MA et al. Recent warming by latitude associated with increased length of ragweed pollen season in central North America. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2011; 108:4248–51

    Article  PubMed  CAS  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  2. Smith M, Jager S, Berger U, Sikoparija B, Hallsdottir M, Sauliene I et al. Geographic and temporal variations in pollen exposure across Europe. Allergy 2014

    Google Scholar 

  3. Gadermaier G, Eichhorn S, Vejvar E, Weilnbock L, Lang R, Briza P et al. Plantago lanceolata: An important trigger of summer pollinosis with limited IgE cross-reactivity. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2014

    Google Scholar 

  4. Gadermaier G, Hauser M, Ferreira F. Allergens of weed pollen: An overview on recombinant and natural molecules. Methods 2014; 66:55–66

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Wopfner N, Jahn-Schmid B, Schmidt G, Christ T, Hubinger G, Briza P et al. The alpha and beta subchain of Amb a 1, the major ragweed-pollen allergen show divergent reactivity at the IgE and T-cell level. Mol Immunol 2009; 46:2090–7

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Razzera G, Gadermaier G, de Paula V, Almeida MS, Egger M, Jahn-Schmid B et al. Mapping the interactions between a major pollen allergen and human IgE antibodies. Structure 2010; 18:1011–21

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Himly M, Jahn-Schmid B, Dedic A, Kelemen P, Wopfner N, Altmann F et al. Art v 1, the major allergen of mugwort pollen, is a modular glycoprotein with a de-fensin-like and a hydroxyproline-rich domain. Faseb J 2003; 17:106–8

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Lombardero M, Garcia-Selles FJ, Polo F, Jimeno L, Chamorro MJ, Garcia-Casado G et al. Prevalence of sensitization to Artemisia allergens Art v 1, Art v 3 and Art v 60 kDa. Cross-reactivity among Art v 3 and other relevant lipid-transfer protein allergens. Clin Exp Allergy 2004; 34:1415–21

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Moverare R, Larsson H, Carlsson R, Holmquist I. Mugwort-sensitized individuals from North Europe, South Europe and North America show different IgE reactivity patterns. Int Arch Allergy Immunol 2011; 154:164–72

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Oberhuber C, Ma Y, Wopfner N, Gadermaier G, Dedic A, Niggemann B et al. Prevalence of IgE-binding to Art v 1, Art v 4 and Amb a 1 in mugwort-allergic patients. Int Arch Allergy Immunol 2008; 145:94–101

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Dedic A, Gadermaier G, Vogel L, Ebner C, Vieths S, Ferreira F et al. Immune recognition of novel isoforms and domains of the mugwort pollen major allergen Art v 1. Mol Immunol 2009; 46:416–21

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Jahn-Schmid B, Fischer GF, Bohle B, Fae I, Gadermaier G, Dedic A et al. Antigen presentation of the immunodominant T-cell epitope of the major mugwort pollen allergen, Art v 1, is associated with the expression of HLA-DRB1 *01. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2005; 115:399–404

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Leonard R, Wopfner N, Pabst M, Stadlmann J, Petersen BO, Duus JO et al. A new allergen from ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) with homology to art v 1 from mugwort. J Biol Chem 2010; 285:27192–200

    Article  PubMed  CAS  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  14. Gruber P, Gadermaier G, Bauer R, Weiss R, Wagner S, Leonard R et al. Role of the polypeptide backbone and post-translational modifications in cross-reactivity of Art v 1, the major mugwort pollen allergen. Biol Chem 2009; 390:445–51

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Egger M, Hauser M, Mari A, Ferreira F, Gadermaier G. The role of lipid transfer proteins in allergic diseases. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep 2010; 10:326–35

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Costa MA, Colombo P, Izzo V, Kennedy H, Venturella S, Cocchiara R et al. cDNA cloning, expression and primary structure of Par jI, a major allergen of Parietaria judaica pollen. FEBS Lett 1994; 341:182–6

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. Stumvoll S, Westritschnig K, Lidholm J, Spitzauer S, Colombo P, Duro G et al. Identification of cross-reactive and genuine Parietaria judaica pollen allergens. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2003; 111:974–9

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. Tordesillas L, Sirvent S, Diaz-Perales A, Villalba M, Cuesta-Herranz J, Rodriguez R et al. Plant lipid transfer protein allergens: no cross-reactivity between those from foods and olive and Parietaria pollen. Int Arch Allergy Immunol 2011; 156:291–6

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  19. Sanchez-Lopez J, Tordesillas L, Pascal M, Munoz-Cano R, Garrido M, Rueda M et al. Role of Art v 3 in pollinosis of patients allergic to Pru p 3. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2014; 133:1018–25 e3

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  20. Stemeseder T, Klinglmayr E, Moser S, Lang R, Himly M, Gschwendtner L et al., editors. Influences of environmental triggers and lifestyle on the development of allergic sensitizations. Congress of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology; 2014; Kopenhagen, Denmark.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Boehme MW, Kompauer I, Weidner U, Piechotowski I, Gabrio T, Behrendt H. [Respiratory symptoms and sensitization to airborne pollen of ragweed and mugwort of adults in Southwest Germany]. Dtsch Med Wochenschr 2013; 138:1651–8

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  22. Canis M, Becker S, Groger M, Kramer MF. IgE reactivity patterns in patients with allergic rhinoconjunctivitis to ragweed and mugwort pollens. Am J Rhinol Allergy 2012; 26:31–5

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. Calabozo B, Diaz-Perales A, Salcedo G, Barber D, Polo F. Cloning and expression of biologically active Plantago lanceolata pollen allergen Pla l 1 in the yeast Pichia pastoris. Biochem J 2003; 372:889–96

    Article  PubMed  CAS  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  24. Asero R, Monsalve R, Barber D. Profilin sensitization detected in the office by skin prick test: a study of prevalence and clinical relevance of profilin as a plant food allergen. Clin Exp Allergy 2008; 38:1033–7

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  25. Hirschwehr R, Heppner C, Spitzauer S, Sperr WR, Valent P, Berger U et al. Identification of common allergenic structures in mugwort and ragweed pollen. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1998; 101:196–206

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  26. Jahn-Schmid B, Hauser M, Wopfner N, Briza P, Berger UE, Asero R et al. Humoral and cellular cross-reactivity between Amb a 1, the major ragweed pollen allergen, and its mugwort homolog Art v 6. J Immunol 2012; 188:1559–67

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  27. Asero R, Wopfner N, Gruber P, Gadermaier G, Ferreira F. Artemisia and Ambrosia hypersensitivity: co-sensitization or co-recognition? Clin Exp Allergy 2006; 36:658–65

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  28. Egger M, Mutschlechner S, Wopfner N, Gadermaier G, Briza P, Ferreira F. Pollen-food syndromes associated with weed pollinosis: an update from the molecular point of view. Allergy 2006; 61:461–76

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  29. Heinzerling LM, Burbach GJ, Edenharter G, Bachert C, Bindslev-Jensen C, Bonini S et al. GA(2)LEN skin test study I: GA(2)LEN harmonization of skin prick testing: novel sensitization patterns for inhalant allergens in Europe. Allergy 2009; 64:1498–506

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  30. Gadermaier G, Hauser M, Egger M, Ferrara R, Briza P, Santos KS et al. Sensitization prevalence, antibody cross-reactivity and immunogenic peptide profile of Api g 2, the non-specific lipid transfer protein 1 of celery. PLoS One 2011; 6:e24150

    Article  PubMed  CAS  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  31. Wallner M, Pichler U, Ferreira F. Recombinant allergens for pollen immunotherapy. Immunotherapy 2013; 5:1323–38

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  32. Hafner RP, Salapatek A, Patel D, Larche M, Laidler P, editors. Validation of Peptide Immunotherapy as a New Approach in the Treatment of Rhinoconjunctivitis: The Clinical Benefits of Treatment with Amb a 1 Derived T cell Epitopes. J Allergy and Clin Immunology 2012;129 (2, Suppl):AB368

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Gabriele Gadermaier.

Additional information

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.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

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).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Key words