Arthropod Allergens in Urban Homes

Ljerka Prester 1
  • 1 Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health, Zagreb, Croatia

Arthropod Allergens in Urban Homes

Dust mites, cockroaches, and pets (cats, dogs) are common in homes worldwide, and many species are the source of potent allergens which cause allergic diseases. These diseases are influenced by genetic predisposition and environmental exposure. Generally, the levels of house dust mite (Der p 1 and Der f 1) and cockroach (Bla g 1, Bla g 2) allergens are used as markers of indoor exposure to arthropods.

This article reviews the findings of allergens Der p 1, Der f 1, and Bla g 1 in randomly selected urban households in Zagreb (Croatia) measured from 2006 to 2010 and compares them with exposure to arthropod allergens in other countries. In short, house dust mite allergen levels in Croatian homes are low, but exposure is common; Der p 1 was found in 73 % and Der f 1 in 83 % of the households. By contrast, exposure to cockroach allergen Bla g 1 was both low and uncommon (13 %). Exposure to multiple allergens associated with sensitisation and asthma was not frequent in urban homes in Croatia. However, further studies should include monitoring of both arthropod and pet allergens in high-risk populations in inland and coastal Croatia. They should also investigate a complex dose-response relationship between exposure and sensitisation/asthma development, especially in early childhood.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Wang DY. Risk factors of allergic rhinitis: genetic or environmental? Ther Clin Risk Manag 2005;1:115-23.

  • Gold DR. Environmental tobacco smoke, indoor allergens, and childhood asthma. Environ Health Perspect 2000;108(Suppl 4):643-51.

  • Salo PM, Arbes SJ, Crockett PW, Thorne PS, Cohn RD, Zeldin DC. Exposure to multiple indoor allergens in US homes and its relationship to asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2008;121:678-84.

  • Platts-Mills TA, Vervloet D, Thomas WR, Aalberse RC, Chapman MD. Indoor allergens and asthma: report of the Third International Workshop. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1997;100:S2-S24.

  • Leaderer BP, Belanger K, Triche E, Holford T, Gold DR, Kim Y, Jankun T, Ren P, McSharry J, Platts-Mills TA, Chapman MD, Bracken MB. Dust mite, cockroach, cat, and dog allergen concentrations in homes of asthmatic children in the northeastern United States: impact of socioeconomic factors and population density. Environ Health Perspect 2002;110(Suppl 4):419-25.

  • Arlian LG. Arthropod allergens and human health. Annu Rev Entomol 2002;47:395-433.

  • De Lucca S, Sporik R, O'Meara TJ, Tovey ER. Mite allergen (Der p 1) is not only carried on mite feces. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1999;103:174-5.

  • Liccardi G, D'Amato G, Russo M, Canonica GW, D'Amato L, De Martino M, Passalacqua G. Focus on cat allergen (Fel d 1): immunological and aerodynamic characteristics, modality of airway sensitization and avoidance strategies. Int Arch Allergy Immunol 2003;131:1-12.

  • Segundo GRS, Sopelete MC, Terra SA, Pereira FL, Justino CM, de Oliveira Silva DA, Taketomi EA. Diversity of allergen exposure: implications for the efficacy of environmental control. Braz J Otorhinolaryngol 2009;75:311-6.

  • Custovic A, Simpson A, Pahdi H, Green RM, Chapman MD, Woodcock A. Distribution, aerodynamic characteristics, and removal of the major cat allergen Fel d 1 in British homes. Thorax 1998;53:33-8.

  • Gaffin JM, Phipatanakul W. The role of indoor allergens in the development of asthma. Curr Opinion Allergy Clin Immunol 2009;9:128-35.

  • Zock JP, Heinrich J, Jarvis D, Verlato G, Norbäck D, Plana E, Sunyer J, Chinn S, Olivieri M, Soon A, Villani S, Ponzio M, Dahlman-Hoglund A, Svanes C, Luczynska C. Distribution and determinants of house dust mite allergens in Europe: The European Community Respiratory Health Survey II. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2006;118:682-90.

  • Arlian LG, Bernstein D, Bernstein IL, Freidman S, Grant A, Lieberman P, Lopez M, Metzger J, Platts-Mill T, Schatz M, Spector S, Wasserman SI, Zeiger RS. Prevalence of dust mites in homes of people with asthma living in eight different geographic areas of the United States. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1992;90:292-300.

  • Macan J, Kanceljak B, Plavec D, Milković-Kraus S. Differences in mite fauna between the continental and mediterian climates of Croatia: Microscopy and Dustscreen™ test findings. Allergy 2003;58:780-3.

  • Banac S, Lah Tomulić K, Ahel V, Rožmanić V, Šimundić N, Zubović S, Milardović A, Topić J. Prevalence of asthma and allergic diseases in Croatian children is increasing: Survey study. Croat Med J 2004;45:721-6.

  • Gelfand EW. Pediatric asthma : a different disease. Proc Am Thorac Soc 2009;6:278-82.

  • Raja S, Xu Y, Ferro AR, Jaques PA, Hopke PK. Resuspension of indoor aeroallergens and relationship to lung inflammation in asthmatic children. Environ Int 2010;36:8-14.

  • Arshad SH. Does exposure to indoor allergens contribute to the development of asthma and allergy? Curr Allergy Asthma Rep 2010;10:49-55.

  • Crain EF, Walter M, O'Connor GT, Mitchell H, Gruchalla RS, Kattan M, Malindzak GS, Enright P, Evans R, Morgan W, Stout JW. Home and allergic characteristics of children with asthma in seven U. S. urban communities and design of an environmental intervention: the inner-city asthma study. Environ Health Perspect 2002;110:939-45.

  • Loo CK, Foty RG, Wheeler AJ, Miller JD, Evans G, Stieb DM, Dell SD. Do questions reflecting indoor air pollutant exposure from a questionnaire predict direct measure of exposure in owner-occupied houses? Int J Environ Res Public Health 2010;7:3270-97.

  • Saglani S, McKenzie SA. Environmental factors relevant to difficult asthma. Paediatr Respir Rev 2002;3:248-54.

  • Raherison C, Pénard-Morand C, Moreau D, Caillaud D, Charpin D, Kopferschmitt C, Lavaud F, Taytard A, Maesano A. Smoking exposure and allergic sensitization in children according to maternal allergies. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2008;100:351-7.

  • Künzli N, Kaiser R, Medina S, Studnicka M, Chanel O, Filliger P, Herry M, Horak Jr F, Puybonnieux-Texier V, Quénel P, Schneider J, Seethaler R, Vergnaud JC, Sommer H. Public-health impact of outdoor and traffic-related air pollution: a European assessment. Lancet 2000;356:795-801.

  • Yong TS, Jeong KY. Household anthropod allergens in Korea. Korean J Parasitol 2009;47(Suppl):S143-53.

  • Chua KY, Cheong N, Kuo IC, Lee BW, Yi FC, Huang CH, Liew LN. The Blomia tropicalis allergens. Protein Pept Lett 2007;14:325-33.

  • Cruz LM, López-Malpica F, Diaz AN. Analysis of cross-reactivity between group 1 allergens from mites. P R Health Sci J 2008;27:163-70.

  • Arruda LK, Vailes LD, Ferriani VPL, Santos ABR, Pomés A, Chapman MD. Cockroach allergens and asthma. J Allergy Clin Imminol 2001;107:419-28.

  • Woodcock A, Custovic A. Allergen avoidance: does it work? Br Med Bull 2000;56:1071-86.

  • De Blay F, Sanchez J, Hedelin G, Perez-Infante A, Vérot A, Chapman M, Pauli G. Dust and airborne exposure to allergens derived from cockroach (Blattella germanica) in low-cost public housing in Strasbourg (France). J Allergy Clin Immunol 1997;99:107-12.

  • De Lucca SD, Taylor DJM, O'Meara TJ, Jones AS, Tovey ER. Measurement and characterization of cockroach allergens detected during normal domestic activity. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1999;104:672-80.

  • Montoya LD, Hildemann LM. Size distributions and height variations of airborne particulate matter and cat allergen indoors immediately following dust-disturbing activities. J Aerosol Sci 2005;36:735-49.

  • Paufler P, Gebel T, Dunkelberg H. Quantification of house dust mite allergens in ambient air. Rev Environ Health 2001;16:65-80.

  • Luczynska CM. Sampling and assay of indoor allergens. J Aerosol Sci 1997;28:393-9.

  • Custovic A, Simpson B, Simpson A, Hallam C, Craven M, Woodcock A. Relationship between mite, cat, and dog allergens in reservoir dust and ambient air. Allergy 1999;54:612-6.

  • Parvaneh S, Ahlf E, Elfman LHM, van Hage-Hamsten M, Elfman L, Nybom R. A new method for collecting airborne allergens. Allergy 2000;55:1148-54.

  • Prester Lj, Brčić Karačonji I, Macan J. Determination of mite allergens in house dust using the enzyme immunoassay. Arhiv Hig Rada Toksikol 2007;58:413-9.

  • Prester Lj, Macan J. Bla g 1 allergen levels in Zagreb area household dust. Arh Hig Rada Toksikol 2011;62:33-9.

  • Earle CD, King EM, Tsay A, Pittman K, Saric B, Vailes L, Godbout R, Oliver KG, Chapman MC. High-throughput fluorescent multiplex array for indoor allergen exposure assessment. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2007;119:428-33.

  • Warner A, Boström S, Munir AK, Möller C, Schou C, Kjellman NI. Environmental assessment of Dermatophagoides mite-allergen levels in Sweden should include Der m 1. Allergy 1998;53:698-701.

  • Torrent M, Sunyer J, Garcia R, Harris J, Iturriaga MV, Puig C, Vall O, Anto JM, Newman Taylor AJ, Cullinan P. Early-life allergen exposure and atopy, asthma, and wheeze up to 6 years of age. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2007;176:446-53.

  • Hirsch T, Hering M, Bürkner K, Hirsch D, Leupold W, Kerkmann ML, Kuhlisch E, Jatzwauk L. House-dust-mite allergen concentrations (Der f 1) and mold spores in apartment bedrooms before and after installation of insulated windows and central heating system. Allergy 2000;55:79-83.

  • de Andrade D, Birnbaum J, Lanteaume A, Izard JL, Corget P, Artillan MF, Toumi M, Vervloet D, Charpin D. Housing and house-dust mites. Allergy 1995;50:142-6.

  • Hallas TE, Gislason D, Björnsdottir US, Jörundsdottir KB, Janson C, Luczynska CM, Gislason T. Sensitization to house dust mites in Reykjavik, Iceland, in the absence of domestic exposure to mites. Allergy 2004;59:515-9.

  • Mihrshahi S, Marks G, Vanlaar C, Tovey E, Peat J. Predictors of high house dust mite allergen concentrations in residential homes in Sydney. Allergy 2002;57:137-42.

  • Dharmage S, Bailey M, Raven J, Mitakakis T, Cheng A, Guest D, Rolland J, Forbes A, Thien F, Abramson M, Walters EH. Current indoor allergen levels of fungi and cats, but not house dust mites, influence allergy and asthma in adults with high dust mite exposure. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2001;164:65-71.

  • Moscato G, Perfetti L, Galdi E, Pozzi V, Minoia C. Levels of house-dust-mite allergen in homes of nonallergic people in Pavia, Italia. Allergy 2000;55:873-8.

  • Simpson A, Simpson B, Custovic A, Cain G, Craven M, Woodcock A. Household characteristics and mite allergen levels in Manchester, UK. Clin Exp Allergy 2002;32:1413-9.

  • Yi FC, Lee BW, Cheong N, Chua KY. Quantification of Blo t 5 in mite and dust extracts by two-site ELISA. Allergy 2005;60:108-12.

  • Hill DJ, Thompson PJ, Stewart GA, Carlin JB, Nolan TM, Kemp AS, Hosking CS. The Melbourne house dust mite study: eliminating house dust mites in the domestic environment. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1997;99:323-9.

  • Antens CJM, Oldenwening M, Wolse A, Gehring U, Smit HA, Aalberse RC, Kerkhof M, Gerritsen J, de Jongste JC, Brunekreef B. Repeated measurements of mite and pet allergen levels in house dust over a time period of 8 years. Clin Exp Allergy 2006;36:1525-31.

  • Leung R, Lam CWK, Chan A, Lee M, Chan HIS, Pang SW, Lai CKW. Indoor environment of residential homes in Hong Kong-relevance to asthma and allergic diseases. Clin Exp Allergy 1998;28:585-90.

  • Arbes SJ, Cohn RD, Yin M, Muilenberg ML, Burge HA, Friedman W, Zeldin DC. House dust mite allergen in US beds: results from the Fist National Survey of Lead and Allergens in Housing. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2003;111:408-14.

  • Fahlbusch B, Heinrich J, Groβ I, Jäger L, Richter K, Wichmann HE. Allergens in house-dust samples in Germany: results of an East-West German comparison. Allergy 1999;54:1215-22.

  • Kitch BT, Chew G, Burge HA, Muilenberg ML, Weiss ST, Platts-Mills TAE, O'Connor G, Gold DR. Socioeconomic predictors of high allergen levels in homes in the greater Boston area. Environ Health Perspect 2000;108(Suppl 4):301-7.

  • Cohn RD, Arbes SJ Jr, Jaramillo R, Reid LH, Zeldin DC. National prevalence and exposure risk for cockroach allergen in U. S. Households. Environ Health Perspect 2006;114:522-6.

  • Eggleston PA, Rosenstreich D, Lynn H, Gergen P, Baker D, Kattan M, Mortimer KM, Mitchell H, Ownby D, Slavin R, Malveaux F. Relationship of indoor allergen exposure to skin test sensitivity in inner-city children with asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1998;102:563-70.

  • Peters JL, Levy JI, Rogers CA, Burge HA, Spengler JD. Determinants of allergen concentrations in apartments of asthmatic children living in public housing. J Urban Health 2007;84:185-97.

  • Huss K, Adkinson FN, Eggleston PA, Dawson C, Van Natta ML, Hamilton RG. House dust mite and cockroach exposure are strong risk factors for positive allergy skin test responses in the Childhood Asthma Management Program. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2001;107:48-54.

  • Gruchalla RS, Pongracic J, Plaut M, Evans R, Visness CM, Walter M, Crain EF, Kattan M, Morgan WJ, Steinbach S, Stout J, Malindzak G, Smartt E, Mitchell H. Inner city asthma study: Relationships among sensitivity, allergen exposure, and asthma morbidity. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2005,115:478-85.

  • Hirsch T, Stappenbeck C, Neumeister V, Weiland SK, von Mutius E, Keil U, Leupold W. Exposure and allergic sensitization to cockroach allergen in East Germany. Clin Exp Allergy 2000;30:529-37.

  • Macan J, Plavec D, Kanceljak B, Milković-Kraus S. Exposure levels and skin reactivity to German cockroach (Blatella germanica) in Croatia. CMJ 2003;44(6):756-60.

  • Custis NJ, Woodfolk JA, Vaughan JW, Platts-Mills TAE. Quantitative measurement of airborne allergens from dust mites, dogs, and cats using an ion-charging device. Clin Exp Allergy 2003;33:986-91.

  • van der Heide S, van Aalderen WMC, Kauffman HF, Dubois AEJ, de Monchy JGR. Clinical effects of air cleaners in homes of asthmatic children sensitized to pet allergens. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1999;104:447-51.

  • Gergen PJ, Mortimer KM, Eggleston PA, Rosenstreich D, Mitchell H, Ownby D, Kattan M, Baker D, Wright EC, Slavin R, Malveaux F. Results of the National Cooperative Inner-City Asthma study (NCICAS) environmental intervention to reduce cockroach allergen exposure in inner-city homes. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1999;103:501-6.

  • Halken S, Høst A, Niklassen U, Hansen LG, Nielsen F, Pedersen S, Østerballe O, Veggerby C, Poulsen LK. Effect of mattress and pillow encasings on children with asthma and house dust mite allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2003;111:169-76.

  • Celedón JC, Milton DK, Ramsey CD, Litonjua AA, Ryan L, Platts-Mills TAE, Gold DR. Exposure to dust mite allergen and endotoxin in early life and asthma and atopy in childhood. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2007;120:144-9.

  • von Hertzen L, Haahtela T. Con: House dust mites in atopic diseases. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2009;180:113-9.

  • Cole Johnson C, Ownby DR, Havstad SL, Peterson EL. Family history, dust mite exposure in early childhood, and risk for pediatric atopy and asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2004;114:105-10.

  • Tovey ER, Almqvist C, Li Q, Crisafulli D, Marks GB. Nonlinear relationship of mite allergen exposure to mite sensitization and asthma in a birth cohort. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2008;122:114-8.

  • Torrent M, Sunyer J, Muňoz L, Cullinan P, Iturriaga MV, Figueroa C, Vall O, Taylor AN, Anto JM. Early-life domestic aeroallergen exposure and IgE sensitization at age 4 years. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2006;118:742-8.

  • Platts-Mills T, Vaughan J, Squillace S, Woodfolk J, Sporik R. Sensitization, asthma, and a modified Th2 response in children exposed to cat allergen: a population-based cross-sectional study. Lancet 2001;357:752-6.

  • Ownby DR, Cole Johnson C, Peterson EL. Exposure to dogs and cats in the first year of life and risk of allergic sensitization at 6 to 7 years of age. JAMA 2002;288:963-72.

  • Kumar R. Prenatal factors and the development of asthma. Curr Opin Pediatr 2008:20:682-7.

  • Gehring U, Strikwold M, Schram-Bijkerk D, Weinmayr G, Genuneit J, Nagel G, Wickens K, Siebers R, Crane J, Doekes G, Di Domenicantonio R, Nilsson L, Priftanji A, Sandin A, El-Sharif N, Strachan D, van Hage M, von Mutius E, Brunekreef B. Asthma and allergic symptoms in relation to house dust endotoxin: Phase Two of the International Study on Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC II). Clin Exp Allergy 2008;38:1911-20.

  • Remes ST, Koskela HO, Iivanainen K, Pekkanen J. Allergen-specific sensitization in asthma and allergic diseases in children: the study on farmers' and non-farmers' children. Clin Exp Allergy 2005;35:160-6.

  • Riedler J, Eder W, Oberfeld G, Schreuer M. Austrian children living on a farm have less hay fever, asthma and allergic sensitization. Clin Exp Allergy 2000;30:194-200.

  • Stetzenbach LD, Buttner MP, Cruz P. Detection and enumeration of airborne biocontaminants. Curr Opin Biotechnol 2004;15:170-4.

  • Schäppi GF, Taylor PE, Pain MCF, Cameron PA, Dent AW, Staff IA, Suphioglu C. Concentrations of major grass group 5 allergens in pollen grains and atmospheric particles: implications for hay fever and allergic asthma suffers sensitized to grass pollen allergens. Clin Exp Allergy 1999;29:633-41.

  • van Strien RT, Gehring U, Belanger K, Triche E, Gent J, Bracken MB, Leaderer BP. The influence of air conditioning, humidity, temperature and other household characteristics on mite allergen concentrations in the northeastern United States. Allergy 2004:59:645-52.

  • Cloosterman SGM, Schermer TRJ, Bijl-Hofland ID, van der Heide S, Brunekreef B, van den Elshout FJJ, van Herwaarden CLA, van Schayck CP. Effects of house dust mite avoidance measures on Der p1 concentrations and clinical condition of mild adult house dust mite-allergic asthmatic patients, using no inhaled steroids. Clin Exp Allergy 1999;29:1336-46.


Journal + Issues

All articles are published under the CC-BY licence.