Specific Antibodies for the Detection of Alternaria Allergens and the Identification of Cross-Reactive Antigens in Other Fungi

Twaroch TE, Curin M, Sterflinger K, Focke-Tejkl M, Swoboda I, Valenta R.

Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2016;170(4):269-278. Epub 2016 Oct 26.



The mould Alternaria alternata is an important source of respiratory allergens. A. alternata extracts show great variations regarding allergenic potency. The aim of this study was to generate antibody probes specific for important Alternaria allergens and to use them to study allergen expression, depending on different culture conditions, as well as to search for cross-reactive allergens in other mould species.


Synthetic peptides from antigenic regions of A. alternata allergens (Alt a 1, Alt a 2, Alt a 3, Alt a 6 and Alt a 8) were used to raise highly specific rabbit antibodies. These antibodies and IgE from allergic patients were used to detect allergens by immunoblotting in extracts of 4 A. alternata strains grown under varying culturing conditions, in commercial skin-prick extracts and in closely (Cladosporium herbarum and Aureobasidium pullulans) or distantly related (Aspergillus niger and Penicillium chrysogenum) mould species.


There was a wide variation of expression of the individual A. Alternata allergens, depending on the strain and culture conditions, but the antibody probes allowed us to distinguish strains and culture conditions with low and high allergen expression. In the commercial skin-prick solutions, varying levels of Alt a 1 were found, but no other allergens were detectable. Alt a 1 was identified as species-specific A. Alternata allergen, whereas Alt a 3, 6- and Alt a 8-cross-reactive antigens were found in C. herbarum and/or A. pullulans.


Peptide-specific antibodies are useful to analyze diagnostic and therapeutic mould extracts, to study the presence of A. Alternata allergens in biological samples and to search for cross-reactive allergens in other mould species.

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