Allergies: Exhaust gases increase the aggressiveness of ragweed pollen

Pollen of the mugwort leaved herb (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) shows increased allergen amounts when the plant is exposed to nitrogen dioxide-containing fumes. Scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum M√ľnchen found out.

The researchers examined how nitrogen oxides affect the plant's pollen. Specifically, they fumigate the plants with different amounts of NO2, which occurs, for example, when fuel is burned. It was shown that the stress on the plant caused by NO2 changes the protein composition of the pollen. Different forms of the well-known allergen Amb a 1 were significantly increased. In addition, the scientists observed that the pollen from plants treated with NO2 bound significantly more specifically to specific IgE antibodies from allergies to ragweed. This is often the beginning of an allergic reaction in humans.

So far unknown allergen in ambrosia
And something else was noticeable in the pollen of fumigated plants: In their investigations, the plant researchers discovered a protein, which occurred especially with increased NO2 values. So far, this was unknown as Ambrosia allergen and has a strong resemblance to a protein from rubber trees, the scientists write. There it was previously described as an allergen. This effect is also known in molds and other plants. Further experiments on this are currently being planned.

Ultimately, it can be expected that the already aggressive ambrosia pollen will become more allergenic in the future due to air pollution, according to the study authors. You can find the study here. (Association of German Alternative Practitioners)

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