Component-resolved diagnosis using guinea-pig allergens elucidates allergen sensitization profiles in allergy to furry animals.
BACKGROUND: Furry animals are an important source of indoor allergens. Diagnosis of allergy to small pets such as guinea-pigs still relies on animal dander extracts which do not allow to define the primary sensitization source. OBJECTIVE: To identify major guinea-pig allergens and to evaluate their potential as marker allergens for in vitro IgE-diagnosis in comparison with dander extracts. METHODS: A group of patients allergic to guinea-pig (n = 29) and a group of patients allergic to cat and dog (n = 30) were recruited for the study. A panel of four guinea-pig lipocalin allergens was expressed as recombinant proteins in E. coli. Specific IgE were quantified by ImmunoCAP and ELISA. RESULTS: The combination of 4 guinea-pig lipocalin allergens, including 2 new lipocalins, Cav p 1.0201 and Cav p 6.0101, and the previously characterized lipocalins Cav p 2 and Cav p 3, enabled the identification of 90% of all patients allergic to guinea-pig. The vast majority had specific IgE to Cav p 1 (83%). Cav p 6 shares 54% sequence identity with Fel d 4 and Can f 6 and was found to be IgE-cross-reactive with these allergens. In the group of cat- and dog-allergic patients, 73% had also specific IgE to guinea-pig dander. However, only 27% of the cat /dog-allergic patients had specific IgE to any of the non-cross-reactive guinea-pig allergens Cav p 1, Cav p 2 or Cav p 3. The high prevalence of IgE to guinea-pig dander could be explained by IgE-cross-reactivity among serum albumins and certain lipocalins. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: The availability of specific allergen markers is essential for the assessment of primary sensitization, especially in polysensitized patients. The proposed panel of guinea-pig allergens Cav p 1, Cav p 2 and Cav p 3 is a first step to component-resolved IgE-diagnosis of allergy to small furry pets.