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Mite faeces are a major source of house dust allergens


The association between house dust allergy and asthma has long been recognized, and it has been demonstrated that a major allergen in house dust is related to the presence of mites of the genus Dermatophagoides1. Using extracts of mite culture for skin testing, as many as 10% of the population and up to 90% of allergic asthmatics give positive immediate reactions2. Although mites may occasionally become airborne during bed-making3, it has also been demonstrated that they ‘secrete or excrete’ some allergen1. Recently, we have shown that up to three-quarters of the serum IgE antibodies to mites are directed against a major allergen—antigen P1 (molecular weight 24,000)4. Using a radioimmunoassay it is possible to measure the concentration of this glycoprotein in both dust samples and mite cultures. These measurements, which are reported here, show that more than 95% of the allergen accumulating in mite cultures is associated with faecal particles.

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Tovey, E., Chapman, M. & Platts-Mills, T. Mite faeces are a major source of house dust allergens. Nature 289, 592–593 (1981).

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