Evidence of cross-reactivity between olive, ash, privet, and Russian olive tree pollen allergens

S. M. Kernerman, J. McCullough, J. Green, D. R. Ownby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


In a clinical investigation, 103 Michigan residents with symptoms suggestive of allergic rhinitis or asthma were skin tested with olive (Olea europaea) pollen extract. Nineteen had positive reactions. Since the olive tree is not native to nor grown in Michigan, this study was undertaken to determine whether the skin test reactivity was the result of cross-reactivity among tree pollen allergens. ELISAs were developed to measure olive, ash (Fraxinus americana), privet (Ligustrum vulgare), and Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) specific IgE antibodies. Inhibition studies were performed to determine whether pollen extracts from each of these tree species could inhibit IgE antibody binding to olive extracts. Eleven of the 19 skin test-positive patients were olive-ELISA positive, eight either were ELISA-positive to ash, seven to privet and ten to Russian olive. There were significant correlations between the ELISA results to olive and each of the other three pollens. The inhibition studies demonstrated that all three of the tree pollens were capable of inhibiting the binding of IgE to olive extract in a dose-response fashion. IgE-immunoblot studies demonstrated several proteins common to olive, ash, and privet. Twelve of the olive skin test-positive patients were contacted and 75% were exposed to one or more of the studied trees in their yards. Five patients had traveled to areas where olive tress are grown. We conclude that there is a high degree of cross- reactivity among allergens from native Michigan trees and from olive trees. This cross-reactivity is the most likely reason for skin test reactivity to olive pollen extract in Michigan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)493-496
Number of pages4
JournalAnnals of Allergy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy


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