Acacia

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Code: t19
Latin name: Acacia longifolia
Source material: Pollen
Family: Fabaceae
Common names: Acacia tree, Wattle, Port Jackson, White sallow, Sydney golden

Pollen

A tree species producing large amounts of pollen, which often induces hayfever, asthma and conjunctivitis in sensitised individuals.

Allergen Exposure

Acacias are a characteristic feature of dry regions in India and the African savannah, where they are called umbrella trees because of their shape.

These trees are native to Australia, Africa and North and South America. They have been introduced in Portugal, Spain, France and Italy. A. melanoxylon is grown in large plantations in Australia, East and South Africa, and Brazil, where it is harvested for use in tanning leather.

Acacia flowers in early spring.

Acacia is a large genus, including more than 1 000 species, many with thorns and spines. The trees are small, evergreen and fast-growing. They are planted for ornament but also for stabilising dunes and eroded slopes.

Acacia gum (gum Arabic/Senegal gum/Sudan gum) (f297) is derived from this tree and may result in food allergy reactions. (1, 2) Acacia gum is the odourless, colourless, tasteless dried exudate from the stem of the acacia tree.

Acacia bark and wood are rich sources of oils and terpenes and are considered a source for occupational allergens, especially in the tanning industry. Acacia oil is used in the printing industry.

Allergen Description

To date no allergens have been characterised.

Potential Cross-Reactivity

Cross-reactivity between acacia tree and rye grass pollen allergens has been described. (3) Cross-reactivity between members of the Fabaceae (legume family) may be expected. (4)

Date pollen has been shown to cross-react with antigens from Artemisia, cultivated rye (Secale cereale), Timothy grass (Phleum pratense), Sydney golden wattle (Acacia longifolia) and Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) pollen. (5)

Clinical Experience

a. IgE mediated reactions

Hayfever and asthma occur through exposure to pollen. (3, 6, 7, 8, 9) Rhinitis and asthma have been described in wood workers exposed to acacia wood. (10)

This study reviewed perennial and seasonal aeroallergen trends in the Middle East, and their effect on military personnel serving in the area; and reports that most countries have significant grass and weed pollen seasons during April to May and September to October, respectively. Indigenous trees such as date palm, acacia, and mesquite have specific pollen seasons from March to May. Mould allergens were perennial with seasonal peaks, whereas house dust mite was common in humid coastal regions. It concluded that seasonal and perennial allergens observed in the United States are also found in the Middle East. (11) In an earlier study of 327 adult patients with disease of suspected allergic origin who attended a hospital based in the United Arab Emirates, skin-prick testing showed that of 244 patients (74.6%) with positive results, acacia was positive in 25.6%. (12) In a study of aeroallergens in sandstorm dust investigated in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the most abundant aeroallergens were (among others) acacia, Alternaria, Aspergillus and Bermuda grass. (13) In a study in Saudi Arabia, of 1 159 patients tested for sensitisation to inhalants, acacia was positive in 29%. (7)

In a Malaysian study of asthmatic patients with and without rhinitis, 7.9% were skin-prick test positive to Acacia spp. (14) In an earlier study in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, of 200 patients with asthma, 21.5% were sensitised to acacia and 7.5% to Melaleuca pollen. Pollen collection demonstrated that grass and acacia pollen grains were the two most commonly found pollens. (15) In Montpellier, southern France, acacia resulted in positive skin-prick tests, though the pollen was almost absent from pollen counts. (8)

Studies have demonstrated sensitisation to other acacia species, including to Cootamundra wattle (A. baileyana) along the Adriatic coast; (16) A. auriculiformis in West Bengal, India; (17) and in Thailand, where pollen from this tree was shown to result in vernal keratoconjunctivitis. (18) An earlier study reported that of 100 Thai individuals with allergic rhinitis, 19% were skin-prick positive for Acacia. (6)

In 107 patients with allergic rhinitis and/or asthma in Jakarta, Indonesia, 12.15% were shown to be sensitised to A. auriculiformis. (19) Sensitisation to acacia species was also demonstrated in Otaru in Japan. (20) Occupational asthma has been reported due to acacia species, (10) and specifically to Blackwood (A. Melanoxylon). (21) A. Melanoxylon was also reported to cause occupational airborne contact dermatitis. (22) Pollen from Sydney golden (Mimosa tree) (A. floribunda) was reported to be an occupational allergen in florists. (23)

An evaluation of sensitisation to aeroallergens in Mashhad City, Iran, was evaluated by skin-prick tests performed with 27 common regional aeroallergens in 311 patients with allergic rhinitis. The overall rate of sensitisation to any allergen was 81%. 76% of patients were poly-sensitised, and weed and grass were the most prevalent allergens (77% and 62% respectively). Salsola Kali and mould were the most and the least prevalent individual allergens (72.5% and 6.5% respectively). Acacia tree pollen was responsible for sensitisation in 29.3% of subjects. (24)

In a Rwandan study of patients with vernal keratoconjunctivitis, of 3 041 children studied, 11.9% were skin-prick test-positive for acacia, and 20.3% on serum-specific IgE testing. (25)

Oriental plane trees are an important source of airborne allergens in the cities of southwest Asia and southeast Europe. A study conducted in Teheran, Iran, aimed to identify relevant allergens of P. orientalis pollen and to ascertain whether P. orientalis allergens have cross-reactivity with related plane trees. It found the frequency of sensitisation to acacia to be 13 of 19 patients, and 16 of 19 patients showed significantly high levels of IgE to P. orientalis extract. (26)

In a study of pollen allergy in Taiwan, patients with clinically diagnosed allergic rhinitis were enrolled and tested with 30 skin-prick allergens. A total of 419 patients were recruited, of which 313 (74.7%) had a positive skin test. Sensitisation to acacia was found in 4 patients. (27)

Compiled by Dr Harris Steinman, harris@allergyadvisor.com 

References

  1. Fötisch K, Fäh J, Wüthrich B, Altmann F, Haustein D, Vieths S. IgE antibodies specific for carbohydrates in a patient allergic to gum arabic (Acacia senegal). Allergy 1998;53:1043-51.
  2. Sander I, Raulf-Heimsoth M, Wiemer K, Kespohl S, Brüning T, Merget R. Sensitization due to gum arabic (Acacia senegal): the cause of occupational allergic asthma or crossreaction to carbohydrates? Int Arch Allergy Immunol 2006;141(1):51-6.
  3. Howlett BJ, Hill DJ, Knox RB. Cross-reactivity between Acacia (wattle) and rye grass pollen allergens. Detection of allergens in Acacia (wattle) pollen. Clin Allergy 1982;12(3):259-68.
  4. Yman L. Botanical relations and immunological cross-reactions in pollen allergy. 2nd ed. Pharmacia Diagnostics AB. Uppsala. Sweden. 1982: ISBN 91-970475-09.
  5. Kwaasi AA, Harfi HA, Parhar RS, Saleh S, Collison KS, Panzani RC, Al-Sedairy ST, Al-Mohanna FA. Cross-reactivities between date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) polypeptides and foods implicated in the oral allergy syndrome. Allergy 2002;57(6):508-18.
  6. Pumhirun P, Towiwat P, Mahakit P. Aeroallergen sensitivity of Thai patients with allergic rhinitis. Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol 1997;15(4):183-5.
  7. Suliaman FA, Holmes WF, Kwick S, Khouri F, Ratard R. Pattern of immediate type hypersensitivity reactions in the Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 1997;78(4):415-8.
  8. Bousquet J, Cour P, Guerin B, Michel FB. Allergy in the Mediterranean area. I. Pollen counts and pollinosis of Montpellier. Clin Allergy 1984;14(3):249-58.
  9. Lewis WH, Vinay P. North American pollinosis due to insect-pollinated plants. Ann Allergy 1979;42(5):309-18.
  10. De Zotti R, Gubian F. Asthma and rhinitis in wooding workers. Allergy Asthma Proc 1996;17(4):199-203.
  11. Waibel KH. Allergic rhinitis in the Middle East. Mil Med 2005;170(12):1026-8.
  12. Bener A, Safa W, Abdulhalik S, Lestringant GG. An analysis of skin prick test reactions in asthmatics in a hot climate and desert environment. Allerg Immunol (Paris) 2002;34(8):281-6.
  13. Kwaasi AA, Parhar RS, al-Mohanna FA, Harfi HA, Collison KS, al-Sedairy ST. Aeroallergens and viable microbes in sandstorm dust. Potential triggers of allergic and nonallergic respiratory ailments. Allergy 1998;53(3):255-65.
  14. Liam CK, Loo KL, Wong CM, Lim KH, Lee TC. Skin prick test reactivity to common aeroallergens in asthmatic patients with and without rhinitis. Respirology 2002;7(4):345-50.
  15. Sam CK, Kesavan-Padmaja, Liam CK, Soon SC, Lim AL, Ong EK. A study of pollen prevalence in relation to pollen allergy in Malaysian asthmatics. Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol 1998;16(1):1-4.
  16. Cvitanović S, Marusić M. Hypersensitivity to pollen allergens on the Adriatic coast. J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 1994;4(2):96-100.
  17. Boral D, Chatterjee S, Bhattacharya K. The occurrence and allergising potential of airborne pollen in West Bengal, India. Ann Agric Environ Med 2004;11(1):45-52.
  18. Kosrirukvongs P, Vichyanond P, Wongsawad W. Vernal keratoconjunctivitis in Thailand. Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol 2003;21(1):25-30.
  19. Baratawidjaja IR, Baratawidjaja PP, Darwis A, Soo-Hwee L, Fook-Tim C, Bee-Wah L, Baratawidjaja KG. Prevalence of allergic sensitization to regional inhalants among allergic patients in Jakarta, Indonesia. Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol 1999;17(1):9-12.
  20. Akino J, Shimamori Y, Takeichi Y, Miyata T, Hayase Y. Dispersal of pollen and the variation in number of patients prescribed medicine for allergies in Otaru. [Japanese] Yakugaku Zasshi 1999;119(3):215-20.
  21. Wood-Baker R, Markos J. Occupational asthma due to blackwood (Acacia Melanoxylon) Aust N Z J Med 1997;27(4):452-3.
  22. Correia O, Barros MA, Mesquita-Guimaraes J. Airborne contact dermatitis from the woods Acacia melanoxylon and Entandophragma cylindricum. Contact Dermatitis 1992;27(5):343-4.
  23. Ariano R, Panzani RC, Amedeo J. Pollen allergy to mimosa (Acacia floribunda) in a Mediterranean area: an occupational disease. Ann Allergy 1991;66(3):253-6.
  24. Fereidouni M, Farid Hossini R, Jabbari Azad F, Ali Assarezadegan M, Varasteh A. Skin prick test reactivity to common aeroallergens among allergic rhinitis patients in Iran. Allergol Immunopathol (Madr) 2009;37(2):73-9.
  25. Smedt SD, Nkurikiye J, Fonteyne Y, Hogewoning A, Esbroeck MV, Bacquer DD, Tuft S, Gilbert C, Delanghe J, Kestelyn P. Vernal keratoconjunctivitis in school children in Rwanda and its association with socio-economic status: a population-based survey. Am J Trop Med Hyg 2011;85(4):711-7.
  26. Pazouki N, Sankian M, Nejadsattari T, Khavari-Nejad RA, Varasteh AR. Oriental plane pollen allergy: identification of allergens and cross-reactivity between relevant species. Allergy Asthma Proc 2008;29(6):622-8.
  27. Liang KL, Su MC, Shiao JY, Wu SH, Li YH, Jiang RS. Role of pollen allergy in Taiwanese patients with allergic rhinitis. J Formos Med Assoc 2010;109(12):879-85.

 

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