BACKGROUND: Previous studies have described cross-reactivity between fresh fruits, vegetables and pollen. However, no data demonstrates the clinical relevance of sensitization to pollen-related fruits and vegetables in unselected pollen-sensitized adults with and without symptoms in the pollen season. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to estimate the clinical relevance of sensitization to pollen-related fruits and vegetables in unselected pollen-sensitized adults and to examine the diagnostic value of skin-prick test (SPT), histamine release and specific IgE compared with the outcome of oral challenge. METHODS: In total, 936 unselected adults (female : male 479 : 457, median age 33.7 years) were examined for pollen sensitization and clinical cross-reactivity with pollen-related fruits and vegetables by questionnaire, SPT, histamine release, specific IgE and oral challenge. RESULTS: The prevalence of pollen sensitization was 23.8% (n = 223). The probability of a clinical reaction to pollen-related foods in the respective pollen-sensitized groups was: 24% (birch), 4% (grass), 10% (mugwort), 35% (birch + grass), 8% (grass + mugwort) and 52% (birch + grass + mugwort). The odds ratio of a clinical reaction to pollen-related fruits and vegetables in symptomatic pollen-sensitized adults was as high as four times (birch + grass) the odds ratio of a clinical reaction in asymptomatic pollen-sensitized adults. CONCLUSION: This study not only demonstrates a high prevalence of clinical reactions to fruits and vegetables in pollen-sensitized adults, but also a discrepancy between the prevalence of sensitization to fruits and vegetables and the clinical relevance in different pollen-sensitized groups with symptoms in the pollen season as a significant factor.
Allergy. European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2005, Vol 60, Issue 2, p. 218-225