Occupational allergy to locusts: an investigation of the sources of the allergen.
Tee RD., Gordon DJ., Hawkins ER., Nunn AJ., Lacey J., Venables KM., Cooter RJ., McCaffery AR., Newman Taylor AJ.
Allergic symptoms occur commonly in subjects working closely with locusts and are associated with specific IgE antibody. Extracts of intact locusts (Schistocerca gregaria and Locusta migratoria) were used to identify specific IgE antibody, to define the major allergens of the locust and their sources, and to estimate aeroallergen concentration in the working environment. With questionnaire, skin prick tests, and specific IgE measurements, 35 individuals, working in a research center, were surveyed. Of the 15 currently exposed individuals, contact with locusts provoked asthma, rhinitis, and contact urticaria in five, rhinitis and urticaria in three, and rhinitis alone in one individual. Symptoms provoked by locusts and skin test reactions to locust extracts were associated with specific IgE antibody in the serum. The "immunoblot" technique demonstrated the presence of multiple allergens in the locust extracts of approximately 68, 66, 54, 43, 37, 29, and 18 K daltons molecular weight. Locust antigen was identified in the atmosphere by means of an immunochemical method involving elution of high-volume air-sampler filters exposed in the locust breeding room and analysis of eluate allergen content by RAST-inhibition assays. Logit transformation of RAST-inhibition lines demonstrated that the filter extract shared a common slope with the locust extract and with an extract of locust gut. This gut extract also shared a common slope with extracts of locust feces and peritrophic membrane. The major source of allergen appears to be the peritrophic membrane that is present in the gut and is excreted surrounding the feces.