Prevalence of sensitisation to oilseed rape and maize pollens in France: a multi-center study carried out by the Allergo-Vigilance Network


Background: Oilseed rape and maize crops represent a large part of agriculture fields in European countries. Objective: To establish the actual prevalence of sensitization to oilseed rape and maize pollen, and to determine if this is correlated to the amount of exposure as well as to the patient’s history of atopy or asymptomatic atopy. Methods: The study was conducted by 69 allergists belonging to the Allergo-Vigilance Network, in collaboration with the French Agency for Safety of food, and compiles the results of skin prick tests using oilseed rape and maize pollens and seeds, as well as common aeroallergens. The patients were classified into 3 groups: nonatopic, asymptomatic atopy, and actual atopic diseases. Results: Among the 5372 subjects studied (2515 children, 2857 adults), 62.3% had an atopic disease, 10.2% had an asymptomatic atopy, and 27.5% were non-atopic. The level of sensitization was higher in the subjects with atopic disease, as compared to those with asymptomatic atopy: oilseed rape pollen: 11.8% vs 8%, maize pollen, 26% vs 19%, oilseed rape seeds, 7.7% vs 6.9%, corn seeds: 8.3% vs 4.8% (p<0.001). The rate of sensitization was significantly increased in those living in high crop density regions. The association of an atopic disease with a high rate of exposure yielded a higher rate of sensitization of 13.8% and 21.3% for rapeseed pollen, and 22.9% and 30.7% for maize pollen in both children and adults, respectively. Conclusions: The incidence of sensitisation to rapeseed and maize pollen is positively correlated to the level of exposure. This prevalence is higher in patients with actual atopic disease as compared to those with asymptomatic atopy. The frequency of sensitization confirms the allergenicity of these plants destined for food supply and demonstrates the importance of monitoring for respiratory allergies to these pollens, not only in workers exposed to these types of crops, but also in atopic patients living in regions that contain a high density of rapeseed and maize fields. Cross-reactivities between pollens and seeds could potentially elicit cross-reacting food allergies.

Table of Content: Vol. 44 (No. 6) 2012 November

European Annals of Allergy and Clinical Immunology ISSN 1764-1489 | © 2024