BACKGROUND: Sunflowers may cause dermatitis because of allergenic sesquiterpene lactones (SLs). Contact sensitization to sunflower seeds has also been reported, but the allergens are unknown. OBJECTIVES: To analyse sunflower seeds for the presence of SLs and to assess the prevalence of sunflower sensitization in Compositae-allergic individuals. PATIENTS/MATERIALS/METHODS: Sunflower-sensitive patients were identified by aimed patch testing. A dichloromethane extract of whole sunflower seeds was analysed by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry and high-performance liquid chromatography. RESULTS: The prevalence of sensitivity to sunflower in Compositae-allergic individuals was 56%. A solvent wash of whole sunflower seeds yielded an extract containing SLs, the principal component tentatively being identified as argophyllin A or B, other SLs being present in minute amounts. CONCLUSIONS: The concentration of SLs on the sunflower seeds is considered high enough to elicit dermatitis in sensitive persons, and it seems appropriate to warn Compositae-allergic subjects against handling sunflower seeds.
Contact Dermatitis, 2015, Vol 72, Issue 3, p. 172-177