Horse chestnut {Aesculus hippocastanum) pollen: a frequent cause of allergic sensitization in urban children Popp W, Horak F, Jiiger S, Reiser K, Wagtier C, Zwick H. Horse chestnut {Aesculus hippocastanum) pollen: a frequent cause of allergic sensitization in urban children. Allergy 1992: 47: 380-383. •

We investigated the incidence of allergic sensitization and the risk factors underlying sensitization in 214 urban children exposed to horse chestnut pollen. By means of the Phadezym RAST, •we found IgE specific to horse chestnut pollen in 12.6% of the urban children, •whereas it occurred in only 1.9% of control subjects recruited from arural area. Reports of allergic symptoms in spring during the horse chestnut pollen load coincided with the presence of specific IgE in 5.1% of the urban group as against 1.4% of that recruited frotn the rural area. Environmental factors other than those related to urban living and higher horse chestnut pollen counts had no significant impact on allergie sensitization. Increased total IgE levels (> 100 kU/1), however, and the sensitization to pollen of other species significantly raised the odds for sensitization to chestnut pollen. They were highest in highly atopic children with sensitization to pollen, especially to that of plane trees (OR = 73.9). These results suggest the relevance of horse chestnut pollen because of the high allergic sensitization rate amotig urban children, and they should also be borne in mind when it cotnes to the planting of trees in urban areas.

In recent years, many causes of allergic sensitization have been described. The incidence and the epidemiological relevance of allergic sensitization, however, varied. Several studies dealt with the allergen load, air pollution as well as with other indoor-related environmental factors (1, 6, 9, 13-15). The causes of the development of subclinical sensitization and of the onset of allergic disorders of the eyes and respiratory tract have largely remained unexplored (9). The horse chestnut {Aesculus hippocastanum) is fairly common in European cities, especially in Vienna, and it may represent a local cause of elevated pollen load (5). The allergological relevance of the different chestnut allergens has, so far, not been investigated and has thus been a matter of speculation (4, 8, 18). Nevertheless, the horse chesttiut has been recommended for planting in avenues because, from an allergological point of view, it was not considered to be of major importance. The aim of the present study was to investigate the incidence of and the possible risk factors for sensitization to horse chestnut pollen in urban children. 380

W. Popp\F. Horak^S.Jager^ K. Reiser \ C. Wagner \ H. Zwick ^ ^ Ludwig Boltzmann Forschungsstelle fur Umweltpneumologie, Pulmonary Department, KH der Stadt Wien-Lainz, and ^ 1st ENT University Clinic, Vienna, Austria

Key words: horse chestnut pollen; allergic sensitization; environmental factors. Wolfgang Popp, MD Ludwig Boltzmann Forschungsstelle fur Umweltpneumologie Pulmonary Department KH der Stadt Wien-Lainz Wolkersbergenstrasse 1 / A-1130 Vienna, Austria

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Accepted for publication 3 October 1991

Material and methods The study included 214 children recruited from a metropolitan area (Vienna, Austria) for allergological serum investigation. Written informed parental consent was obtained from 75.1 % of the target group of 285 children. In the 2 months' period from midApril to mid-June the total horse chestnut pollen counts Ira? of air were measured by means of a Burkard pollen trap (Rickmansworth, UK), which yielded results representative of the whole area from which the urban subjects were recruited. Measurement of pollen count was done over the past 3 years and the values obtained ranged from 88 to 344 and the daily maximum from 13 to 69 pollen grains/m-' (Fig. 1). For control purposes, we investigated a group of 207 children (participation rate = 74.4%) recruited from a rural area with sparse horse chestnut populations. In the same period, the total horse chestnut pollen counts/tn-*, there, were between 10 and 91, and the daily maximum between 4 and 9 pollen/ml The SO, and NO, levels from the urban and rural areas, measured during the

Horse chestnut sensitization Table 1, Study subjects

Age lyrl Sex (m/fl Height (cml Weight (kgl Active smokers

Urban area n=2U(%)

Rural area n=207(%)

11.9+0.5 136/78 (63.6%)/(36.4%) 154+14 45,1 + 11.3 1617.5%)

11.6+0.5 115/92 (55.6%)/(44.4%) 152+9 46.1 + 11.6 11 (5.3%)

NS NS NS NS NS

Table 2. Allergological results Urban area n=214(%)

Rural area /7=207(%)

Total IgE (kU/l) Total IgE ( > 100 kU/l)

53 + 7 74(34.6)

64+8 78(37.7)

NS NS

IgE specific to horse chestnut pollen 0 0 . 3 4 PRU): RAST class 1 RAST class 2 RAST class 3 RAST class 4

27(12.6) 13(6.1) 11(5.1) 3(1.4) 0

4(1.9) 2(1.0) 2(1.0) 0 0

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Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) pollen: a frequent cause of allergic sensitization in urban children.

We investigated the incidence of allergic sensitization and the risk factors underlying sensitization in 214 urban children exposed to horse chestnut ...
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