Aspergillus niger

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Code: m207
Latin name: Aspergillus niger
Source material: Spores and mycelium
Aspergillus niger is not as prevalent in the air as e.g. A fumigatus, but the fungus may be present in several occupational situations.

Allergen Exposure

Aspergillus niger (A. niger), known as the black mold, is often found in damp places. Like other Aspergillus species, it can resist the human lung's defences. It is not as prevalent in the air as e.g. A. fumigatus, but the fungus may be present in several occupational situations, see below (1).

Clinical Experience

Inhalation of enzyme dust, such as cellulases from A. niger, is a commonly reported cause of occupational asthma (2-5). A. niger has been reported as one of the most important fungi causing mold skin test positivity among allergic asthma and rhinitis patients (6). The enzyme ß-xylosidase derived from A. niger and present in baking additives (5), has been identified as a causative allergen in Baker's asthma. In a factory where A. niger was used in a fermentation process, 18 of 343 (5%) workers were diagnosed with occupational asthma. Of these 18 workers, 8 (44%) were RAST positive to A. niger (4). Byssinosis is an acute respiratory disease among workers exposed to dusts generated during the processing of cotton. One cotton dust component is A. niger, and it is considered an important allergy trigger in byssinosis pathogenesis (3). A. niger may also cause other types of allergy, allergic alveolitis and invasive aspergillosis. Although Aspergillus fumigatus is by far the most common cause of allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) A. niger can also lead to an identical disease (7). There are also reports describing the involvement of A. niger in endocarditis after open-heart surgery (4) and in cystic fibrosis (8).
 
Review
Aspergillus niger (A. niger), known as the black mold, is often found in damp places. Like other Aspergillus species, it can resist the human lung's defences. It is not as prevalent in the air as e.g. A. fumigatus, but the fungus may be present in several occupational situations, see below (1). Inhalation of enzyme dust, such as cellulases from A. niger, is a commonly reported cause of occupational asthma (2-5). A. niger has been reported as one of the most important fungi causing mold skin test positivity among allergic asthma and rhinitis patients (6). The enzyme ß-xylosidase derived from A. niger and present in baking additives (5), has been identified as a causative allergen in Baker's asthma. In a factory where A. niger was used in a fermentation process, 18 of 343 (5%) workers were diagnosed with occupational asthma. Of these 18 workers, 8 (44%) were RAST positive to A. niger (4). Byssinosis is an acute respiratory disease among workers exposed to dusts generated during the processing of cotton. One cotton dust component is A. niger, and it is considered an important allergy trigger in byssinosis pathogenesis (3). A. niger may also cause other types of allergy, allergic alveolitis and invasive aspergillosis. Although Aspergillus fumigatus is by far the most common cause of allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA), A. niger can also lead to an identical disease (7). There are also reports describing the involvement of A. niger in endocarditis after open-heart surgery (4) and in cystic fibrosis (8). 

References

  1. Heaney LG, McCrea P, Buick B, MacMahon J. Brewer's asthma due to malt contamination. Occupational Medicine 1997;47(7):397-400.
  2. Losada E, Hinojosa M, Moneo I, Dominguez J, Diez Gomez ML, Ibanez MD. Occupational asthma caused by cellulase. Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology 1986;77(4):635-9.
  3. O'Neil CE, Reed MA, Aukrust L, Butcher BT. Studies on the antigenic composition of aqueous cotton dust extracts. International Archives of Allergy & Applied Immunology 1983;72(4):294-8.
  4. Topping MD, Scarisbrick DA, Luczynska CM, Clarke EC, Seaton A. Clinical and immunological reactions to Aspergillus niger among workers at a biotechnology plant. British Journal of Industrial Medicine 1985;42(5):312-8.
  5. Sander I, Raulf-Heimsoth M, Siethoff C, Lohaus C, Meyer HE, Baur X. Allergy to Aspergillus-derived enzymes in the baking industry: identification of beta-xylosidase from Aspergillus niger as a new allergen (Asp n 14). Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology 1998;102(2):256-64.
  6. Guneser S, Atici A, Koksal F, Yaman A. Mold allergy in Adana, Turkey. Allergologia et Immunopathologia 1994;22(2):52-4.
  7. Wardlaw A, Geddes DM. Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis: a review. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 1992;85(12):747-51.
  8. Galant SP, Rucker RW, Groncy CE, Wells ID, Novey HS. Incidence of serum antibodies to several Aspergillus species and to Candida albicans in cystic fibrosis. American Review of Respiratory Disease 1976;114(2):325-31.

 

As in all diagnostic testing, the diagnosis is made by the physican based on both test results and the patient history.