Variation of the group 5 grass pollen allergen content of airborne pollen in relation to geographic location and time in season the HIALINE working group

Jeroen Buters, Marje Prank, Mikhail Sofiev, Gudrun Pusch, Roberto Albertini, Isabella Annesi-Maesano, Celia Antunes, Heidrun Behrendt, Uwe Berger, Rui Brandao, Sevcan Celenk, Carmen Galan, Łukasz Grewling, Bogdan Jackowiak, Roy Kennedy, Auli Rantio-Lehtimäki, Gerald Reese, Ingrida Sauliene, Matt Smith, Michel ThibaudonBernhard Weber, Lorenzo Cecchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

161 Scopus citations


Background Allergies to grass pollen are the number one cause of outdoor hay fever. The human immune system reacts with symptoms to allergen from pollen. Objective We investigated the natural variability in release of the major group 5 allergen from grass pollen across Europe. Methods Airborne pollen and allergens were simultaneously collected daily with a volumetric spore trap and a high-volume cascade impactor at 10 sites across Europe for 3 consecutive years. Group 5 allergen levels were determined with a Phl p 5-specific ELISA in 2 fractions of ambient air: particulate matter of greater than 10 μm in diameter and particulate matter greater than 2.5 μm and less than 10 μm in diameter. Mediator release by ambient air was determined in FcεRI-humanized basophils. The origin of pollen was modeled and condensed to pollen potency maps. Results On average, grass pollen released 2.3 pg of Phl p 5 per pollen. Allergen release per pollen (potency) varied substantially, ranging from less than 1 to 9 pg of Phl p 5 per pollen (5% to 95% percentile). The main variation was locally day to day. Average potency maps across Europe varied between years. Mediator release from basophilic granulocytes correlated better with allergen levels per cubic meter (r2 = 0.80, P <.001) than with pollen grains per cubic meter (r2 = 0.61, P <.001). In addition, pollen released different amounts of allergen in the non-pollen-bearing fraction of ambient air, depending on humidity. Conclusion Across Europe, the same amount of pollen released substantially different amounts of group 5 grass pollen allergen. This variation in allergen release is in addition to variations in pollen counts. Molecular aerobiology (ie, determining allergen in ambient air) might be a valuable addition to pollen counting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-95.e6
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015


  • Allergen
  • Europe
  • PM10
  • PM2.5
  • Phl p 5
  • allergy
  • basophil
  • exposure
  • grass
  • modeling


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