Why are there Still Problems with Fungal Allergen Extracts? 

W. Elliott Horner, Samuel B. Lehrer Air Quality Sciences, Inc., Atlanta, GA, and Tulane University Medical Center, New Orleans, LA email aqs@mindspring.com

It has long been axiomatic that reliable allergen extracts of fungi are more difficult to produce and work with than extracts of pollen, dander, or other allergen sources (Salvaggio, 1981; Burge, 1985; D’Amato, Spieksma, 1995; Feinberg, 1946). Features of fungi that contribute to this include their number and variety, the identification is sometimes difficult, their phenotypic plasticity, and the presence of endogenous proteases that can degrade allergens in crude extracts. All of these problems can be addressed to an extent, albeit some with difficulty. Indeed, with the few fungi with which molecular techniques are being used, recombinant allergens are readily being produced. Unfortunately, adequate resources and resolve are lacking for a concerted effort at producing well-characterized allergen extracts. Further, the extracts that are available correspond poorly with the fungi that are often a problem indoors.