Sensitization to Aspergillus species is associated with allergic respiratory diseases. Allergen immunotherapy with nonstandardized Aspergillus extracts is commonly used as therapy in these patients. Unfortunately, no method exists to measure the relevant allergen protein content in diagnostic and therapeutic extracts. Thus, there is a critical need for Aspergillus extract standardization. We hypothesized that development of Aspergillus-specific human IgE mAbs would allow for the characterization of the relevant human allergenic epitopes among currently available commercial Aspergillus fumigatus extracts. Patients with allergic bronchopulmonary mycosis were recruited from Vanderbilt University Medical Center. IgE antibody-secreting B cells were grown and immortalized using human hybridoma techniques first described here. Twenty-six human Aspergillus-reactive IgE mAbs were used as capture and detection reagents to characterize the Aspergillus allergen content of commercial extracts. We found extreme variability in the specificity and quantity of their protein targets. Just 4 mAbs reacted with all available extracts, and only 1 of 4 extracts contained the major allergen Asp f 1. This degree of variability will almost certainly affect the efficacy of these reagents when used in diagnosis and treatment. Human IgE mAbs represent an innovative tool for the evaluation of relevant human allergenic epitopes, which may assist in future development and long-term standardization of mold extracts.
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