How to Find out Which Dust Mite Protein You're Allergic To
May 25 2016
Dust mites are one of those creepy crawlies that no one wants to think about — as soon as they are mentioned you can involuntary feel your skin begin to itch. For some people though, house dust mites are a more serious proposition — with allergic reactions leading to eczema, allergic rhinitis and asthma.
Although there are many different causes of allergies — it is thought that up to 80% of allergy sufferers have reactions to house dust mites. Modern living conditions are thought to contribute to the increasing numbers of people suffering from allergic reactions — as external air quality has grown worse and our homes become sealed and warm.
Mite poo proteins make you sneeze
House mites are tiny creatures — about a quarter of a millimetre long — and it is not only the warm and humid environments that humans provide that mites like — as they savour flaked-off human skin.
The problem for humans lies in the proteins that are found both in the mites — and their poo. And there are a lot of proteins to check when it comes to treating allergies. Knowing which allergen is causing the allergic reaction can be difficult to determine.
Identifying mite proteins — proteomics
Rather than treat allergy sufferers with a broad spectrum of treatments — modern practice is to attempt to treat the specific allergen — and recent research published in the Journal of Proteome Research could help doctors treating allergies prescribe the most effective treatment and medicines. The work was carried out by a team in Thailand and looked at the house dust mite — Dermatophagoides farinae — considered a predominant source of indoor allergens worldwide.
Proteomics is the study of proteins — specifically the structure, function and interactions of proteins — and the team in Thailand used 1D-electrophoresis and mass spectrometry to characterize over 100 proteins from mites. The proteins were identified and classed in seven different groups including enzymes, allergens and signalling proteins. Proteomics is a growing area of research — and new techniques used in proteomics are discussed in the article, Improvement in Speed and Reproducibility of Protein Digestion, and Peptide Quantitation Utilising Novel Sample Preparation Technology in a Full Solution Workflow.
Following further work with 2D-electrophoresis, the team identified 94 distinct proteins — but couldn’t be sure which would cause an allergic reaction. To find out which of the proteins caused an allegic reaction the team reacted the proteins with immunoglobulin E (IgE), — IgE is a type of antibody that plays a role in the body’s response to allergens — from people who suffered from rhinitis. From this work the team identified 63 proteins that could cause an allergic reaction.
Further work on these proteins identified several proteins that could be classed as main allergens — likely to cause a reaction in many allergy sufferers. The main outcome though — was that the group demonstrated that it was possible generate a panel of possible allergens against which allergy patients could be tested to enable better treatment.
Photo from Wikimedia commons
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