Ragweed pollen contains multiple allergenic components that differ in their ability to elicit an allergic response in humans. There are the “major” allergens, such as Amb a I, to which the great majority of ragweed-allergic individuals develop antibodies. Conversely, there are proteins that are reactive in a small percentage (10–20%) of ragweed-allergic subjects, even though they can be highly immunogenic in susceptible individuals. These are referred to as “minor” allergens. A group of minor allergens, the Amb Vs, has been used as a model to study the genetics of human immune response. The Amb Vs were selected for two primary reasons. First, the immunizing doses are extremely low; for Amb a V the dosage is probably less than 60 ng per year in the Baltimore area (Marsh, 1975). Under these conditions approximately 10% of the ragweed-allergic population develop IgE antibody and a somewhat greater portion develop IgG antibody to Amb a V (Marsh et al., 1982a). This condition mimics the responder/nonresponder delineation observed in experimental animals. Second, the Amb Vs’ small size and simple structure suggested that immune recognition might be limited to a single, or very few, immunodominant epitopes. Thus, in the polymorphic human population, only individuals with a particular genetic makeup would be responsive to these allergens. Recently, studies of the Amb Vs have been expanded to include analysis of the molecular interactions that occur during immune response to inhaled allergens.
KeywordsAmbrosia Artemisiifolia Short Ragweed Giant Ragweed Ambrosia Trifida Short Ragweed Pollen
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