Tyrophagus putrescentiae

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Code: d72
Latin name: Tyrophagus putrescentiae
Family: Acaridae
Common names: Storage mite, Mould mite

Allergen Exposure

Geographical distribution

These mites are 0.2 - 0.5 mm in length and have a small translucent body with almost colourless mouthparts and legs. They also have a scale on the end segment of the legs. Their somewhat slender bodies bear a train of hairs that are more numerous and longer than those on Acarus siro. On the underside of the males, on either side of the anus, there are two dome-shaped suckers.

Under optimum conditions, a generation can be completed in 8 to 21 days. As the temperature falls, the length of the life cycle increases greatly. This mite will tolerate high temperatures. Unlike A. siro, it does not produce a hypopus. This mite is a pest of many foods, in particular those having a high fat or protein content. It has been found, inter alia, in wheat flour, soy flour, wheat germ, cheese, rye bread, white bread, mixtures of oats, barley and wheat, cultivated mushrooms, various seeds and fruits (including dried bananas), straw stacks in the field, decaying animal and vegetable matter, dried milk, and ham.

Tyrophagus putrescentiae, a dominant species of Storage mite in Korea, is a particularly important cause of allergic disorders in this country (1).


See common environmental background in our Scientific Document (link to the right).

Unexpected exposure

Mites were found in 21% of 571 samples of cereal-based food products purchased at food retail outlets in the UK, and in 38% of 421 samples, derived from the 571 samples, which were examined after 6 weeks of storage in volunteers’ homes. Most of the samples had fewer than 5 mites, but a few samples contained more than 20 mites, with a maximum of 428 mites detected in a single sample. The most common species were Acarus siro, Tyrophagus putrescentiae, Lepidoglyphus destructor and Glycyphagus domesticus (2).


Earlier studies have shown that T. putrescentiae contains at least 20 allergenic components (1,3-4). A 16 kDa allergen was found to be the most important to T. putrescentiae-allergic patients, with the sera of 52% containing IgE antibodies to this allergen (5).

To date, the following allergens have been characterised:

  • Tyr p 2, a 16 kDa Group 2 mite protein (1,6-10).
  • Tyr p 13, a fatty acid binding protein.
  • Tyr p alpha-tubulin (11).

Recombinant allergens:

  • rTyr p 2 (7,10).
  • rTyr p 13 (1).
  • rTyr p alpha-tubulin (11).

In an evaluation of rTyr p 2 and rLep d 2 of L. destructor through skin tests and serological analysis in sensitised and nonsensitised farmers chronically exposed to Dust mites, it was demonstrated that of the 44 subjects with skin reactivity to L. destructor and/or T. putrescentiae extract, 26 (59%) had skin reactivity to one or the other of the recombinant allergens, while 21 (48%) had it to both. The results suggested that the allergens have similar or shared IgE epitopes (6).

rTyr p 13 was detected in 5 of 78 (6.4%) T. putrescentiae-positive sera tested (1). The frequency of IgE reactivity of rTyr p alpha-tubulin was 29.3% in sera from Storage mite-allergic subjects (11). 

Potential cross-reactivity

Co-sensitisation to Storage mites is a frequent finding in patients sensitised to Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus. However, there is only low immunological crossreactivity between Pyroglyphidae (House dust) mites and non-Pyroglyphidae (Storage) mites (12). This is in spite of antigenic and allergenic determinants being shared by Dermatophagoides species and Tyrophagus putrescentiae and the fact that the 16 kDa Group 2 allergen of Dermatophagoides is one of the most prevalent allergens of T. putrescentiae (5,4).

Similarly, results of other studies have suggested that the major allergens of T. putrescentiae have a strong cross-reactivity with D. pteronyssinus extracts, but that D. pteronyssinus allergens have only partial cross-reactivity with T. putrescentiae extracts (13). Significant though not strong correlations were found between IgE antibody responses to G. domesticus and to L. destructor, and to T. putrescentiae and to L. destructor. Homologous and heterologous IgE antibody inhibition studies showed there was low cross-reactivity between Storage mites and D. pteronyssinus (14). As opposed to the other storage mites, T. putrescentiae shows some cross-reactivity with D. farinae. T. putrescentiae also shares some major allergens with Acarus siro and consequently might show cross-reaction with that Storage mite. Authors have suggested that it is an important allergen source and should be considered when D. pteronyssinus is thought to be a problem (15).

The protein sequence of Gly d 2 (Glycyphagus domesticus) showed 46% and 41% identity to Tyr p 2 (T. putrescentiae) and Der p 2 (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus) respectively. Extensive crossreactivity was demonstrated among Gly d 2, Lep d 2, and Tyr p 2, but little crossreactivity was found between these allergens and Der p 2 (16). Considerable crossreactivity has been demonstrated between T. putrescentiae and 2 Dermatophagoides species in urban areas where these species cohabit, and was shown to be due to a Group 2 mite allergen (5). A recombinant clone of Pso o 2 from Psoroptes ovis, the Sheep scab mite, has been shown to be homologous to the Group 2 mite allergens Lep d 2 of L. destructor, Der f 2 of D. farinae, Der p 2 of D. pteronyssinus, Tyr p 2 of T putrescentiae, Eur m 2 of E. maynei and Gly d 2 of G. domesticus (17). An evaluation of rTyr p 2 and rLep d 2 from L. destructor suggested that the allergens have similar or shared IgE epitopes (6). Similarly, studies have reported that L. destructor, G. domesticus and T. putrescentiae seem to be allergenically more closely related to each other than to A. siro (18).

In a study, T. putrescentiae almost completely inhibited IgE binding to A. siro, and vice versa. D. pteronyssinus inhibited IgE binding to all Storage mites up to 60%, whereas IgE binding to D. pteronyssinus was only minimally inhibited by extracts of Storage mites (19). Similar findings have been reported in other studies. Allergenic components in extracts of A. siro and T. putrescentiae were identified. Five and 4 allergenic components, respectively, were detected in sera from farmers sensitised to Storage mites. The highest frequencies of IgE-binding were to a 15 kDa component of A. siro (7/9 sera) and to a 16 kDa component of T. putrescentiae (23/29 sera). Cross-reactivity between D. pteronyssinus on the one hand and A. siro and T. putrescentiae on the other was shown, as the IgE reactivity to a 25 kDa component of

D. pteronyssinus was inhibited to the same degree by extracts of A. siro, T. putrescentiae and D. pteronyssinus. However, D. pteronyssinus was a poor inhibitor of the allergenic components of A. siro and T. putrescentiae. Strong cross-reactivity was also shown between L. destructor and the allergenic components of A. siro and T. putrescentiae, while the latter mite species only to a very low degree inhibited the allergenic components of L. destructor (20). Blomia tropicalis has been shown to contain multiple allergens, of which most are species-specific. A limited amount of cross-reactivity was demonstrated between B. tropicalis and the 2 common House dust mite species D. pteronyssinus and D. farinae, and between B. tropicalis and the Storage mite T. putrescentiae (21).

A study demonstrated allergenic crossreactivity among several allergens in Anisakis simplex and 4 Dust mite species (A. siro, L. destructor, T. putrescentiae, and D. pteronyssinus). The clinical significance of this cross-reactivity remains to be evaluated (22).

The deduced amino acid sequence of Tyr p 13 showed 61.1 to 85.3% identity with other mite Group 13 allergens. This may result in varying degrees of cross-reactivity among mites containing a Group 13 allergen (1). Tyr p alpha-tubulin showed as much as 97.3% identity to the alpha-tubulin sequences from other organisms. The highly conserved amino acid sequences of alphatubulins across different species of mites may indicate cross-reactivity (11).

Clinical Experience

IgE-mediated reactions

In line with the realisation that Storage mite allergy has effects far beyond farmers and grain workers (23-24) (and hay storage workers more than grain storage workers (25)), recent studies have reported that the Storage mite T. putrescentiae may commonly induce symptoms of asthma and rhinoconjunctivitis in sensitised individuals in both rural and urbanised settings (26-39). Conjunctivitis was more frequent in patients allergic to Storage mites, whereas perioral syndrome (itching of the tongue and swelling of the lips) was seen only in patients sensitised to T. putrescentiae. This study concluded that damp climatic and indoor conditions, and human activities, but not urban or rural living environments per se, influenced the differential sensitisation to House dust mites and Storage mites (40).

In a study of 105 young adults in the east of France, 43.10% of the subjects were shown, through a combination of skin tests and IgE antibody measurements, to be sensitised to Tyrophagus putrescentiae (41). In Barcelona, Spain, of a total of 356 children studied, 11% (39) showed cutaneous sensitisation to Storage mites (Acarus siro, Lepidoglyphus destructor and Tyrophagus putrescentiae). Only 3 of these children were sensitised to Storage mites alone, the majority (92%; 36) being sensitised to Storage and House dust mites both. The majority of the study group were sensitised to L. destructor (42).

Among 4379 patients residing in an area of cereal industries in Spain, the prevalence of mite sensitisation in was 18.96%. The prevalence of sensitisation to Storage mites among mitesensitive patients was 11.88%. Among 50 selected patients, the most frequent sensitisation was to D. pteronyssinus (58%), followed by D. farinae (48%), Lepidoglyphus destructor and Tyrophagus putrescentiae (38%), Blomia kulagini (34%), and Acarus siro and Chortoglyphus arcuatus (24%) (43).

The importance of T. putrescentiae in Huelva, in southeastern Spain, was studied in a group of patients sensitised to D. pteronyssinus. Among the 136 dust samples studied, D. pteronyssinus was identified in 94.8%. T. putrescentiae was found in 41.1% of samples, and G. domesticus in 54.4%. Sensitisation to G. domesticus was not evaluated, but the high prevalence of this mite in house dust indicates the potential prevalence of sensitisation. Among the 45 patients studied, 23 (51.1%) presented 2 positive tests, 18 (40%) were not sensitised to T. putrescentiae, and 4 (8.8%) showed contradictory results. Twenty-six patients (57.7%) inhabited urban areas and 19 (42.2%) rural regions. IgE antibody assessment for T. putrescentiae in 25 patients was positive in 12, with only 7 having values greater than 2 kUA/L. The IgE antibody inhibition studies confirmed the low crossreactivity between these mites, and only in 1 patient did D. pteronyssinus partially inhibit the IgE binding (44).

In a study of sensitisation to T. putrescentiae in the urban population of Upper Silesia, Poland, 56.7% (17/30) of patients who were positive to skin tests showed specific cross-reactivity with antigens isolated from extracts of T. putrescentiae. Forty percent reacted specifically with new allergens identified as protein fractions of extracts from excrement of T. putrescentiae. Approximately 13.3% of patients with positive skin tests showed specific cross-reactivity with antigens isolated from mite excrement rather than from mite whole extracts (45).

Through 64 samples of dust from houses in Bursa, Turkey, 22 (34.38%) houses were found to be infested with domestic mites. The prevalence of the mite species were: 58.34% for D. pteronyssinus, 16.67%, for G. domesticus, 4.16% for D. farinae, and 4.16% for Tyrophagus species (46).

In a second study in Turkey, in Kutahya, the prevalence of domestic mites was found to be 18.05%. T. putrescentiae was found in 43.96%, D. pteronyssinus in 31.03%, A. siro in 13.79%, L. destructor in 1.72%, G. domesticus in 2.58% and Cheyletus species. in 1.72%. A very high rate of D. pteronyssinus was found in August and of T. putrescentiae and Acarus siro in July (47).

In 512 consecutive patients with rhinitis and/or asthma, living in urban or rural areas of central Germany and tested for Storage and House dust mite sensitivity using skinand IgE antibody tests, 103 (20.1%; 77 urban dwellers and 26 farmers) were shown to be sensitised to at least 1 of the Storage mites (48). The working environments of 121 farms in 5 regions of Germany were examined for mites. Of 859 samples, 743 (86.4%) contained mites. The prevalence of Storage mite species were in the following order: Lepidoglyphus destructor > Glycyphagus domesticus > Acarus siro > Tyrophagus longior > Blomia tjibodas > Chortoglyphus arcuatus > Thyreophagus entomophagus > Tyrophagus putrescentiae > Euroglyphus longior > Tyrophagus palmarum > Acarus farris > Acarus immobilis > Gohieria fusca (49).

Farmers working and living in rural regions of Austria (Styria, Lower Austria), and a group of 26 citizens of Vienna, demonstrated sensitisation to Lepidoglyphus destructor and Tyrophagus putreus. The sensitisation rate to Storage mites was markedly high in city dwellers, though higher in farmers (39).

In the urban population of Croatia, the prevalence of subjects with detectable skin reactivity to T. putrescentiae was 35.8%; it was 26.8% for L. destructor, and 22. 4% for D. pteronyssinus and D. farinae. Serumspecific IgE for D. pteronyssinus and D. farinae was detected in 23.9%, followed by T. putrescentiae (22.4%), and L. destructor (14.9%) (50).

In a study of 136 eastern Polish farming students, skin reactivity for T. putrescentiae was detected in 15.4%, more than was found for D. pteronyssinus (14.0%) or Acarus siro (13.2%) (51). Similarly, in Polish farmers, sensitisation to Acarus siro was found in 9.6%, L. destructor in 17.8%, and to T. putrescentiae in 13.7% (52).

In 26 male paper mill workers and 36 postmen evaluated, the paper mill workers manifested a significantly higher frequency of positive skin tests and IgE antibody levels to L. destructor and T. putrescentiae than the postmen. Respiratory symptoms were found in 40% of paper mill workers with positive test results to L. destructor, and in 53.8% with positive test results to T. putrescentiae. All postmen with positive test results to L. destructor and 83.3% with positive test results to T. putrescentiae had respiratory symptoms (53).

In a Finnish study of 106 farmers with allergic rhinitis, challenges with any one of Acarus siro, Lepidoglyphus destructor, and Tyrophagus putrescentiae were positive in 18%, and with Cow dander in 20% of farmers with allergic rhinitis. The results indicate that, among dairy farmers, Storage mites are as common as Cow dander as a cause of allergic occupational rhinitis (54). Storage mites were reported to be the most important allergens for grain elevator workers (23), as confirmed by a Danish study (55). Surprisingly, Storage mite sensitisation was reported to be rare in Swedish bakers (56).

Storage mites have been reported to be common even in arid regions. In a study of mites collected from 8 different areas in greater Cairo, 9 species of mites were recovered from indoors, including T. putrescentiae (57).

In a skin test study in Singapore performed on 391 individuals – 289 patients with asthma and/or allergic rhinitis and 102 healthy controls – using extracts of 6 species of local dust mites, 71.3% of the former group was demonstrated to be sensitised to T. putrescentiae (58).

Korean studies have reported that T. putrescentiae is found in association with D. pteronyssinus and D. farinae in more than 25% of houses in urban areas of Korea, and that many atopic subjects are cosensitised to both species (5). Storage mites appear to be ubiquitous. Skin tests in Korean apple farmers demonstrated that the most common sensitising allergen was European red mite (23.2%), followed by T. putrescentiae (21.2%), Two-spotted spider mite (16.6%), Dermatophagoides farinae (16.3%), D pteronyssinus (14.4%), Cockroach (13.1%), and Hop Japanese (Humulus Japonicus) pollen (12.0%) (59).

Studies from South America report that Storage mite sensitisation is as important there as elsewhere in the world. In 100 children with a history of mild or moderate asthma living in Mexico City, skin tests to D. pteronyssinus were positive in 96%, to D. farinae in 80%, to Euroglyphus maynei in 41%, to Chortoglyphus in 22%, to Blomia tropicalis in 17% and to T. putrescentiae in 12% (60). In Juiz de Fora, Brazil, a study demonstrated that Euroglyphus maynei and T. putrescentiae were some of the main species (61). Similarly, in Lima, Peru, Blomia tropicalis was the mite most frequently detected in house dust samples, followed by D. pteronyssinus, Chortoglyphus arcuatus and T. putrescentiae. Altogether, these 4 mites comprised 90% of the mites detected (62). In Punta Arenas, Chile, the most common mite species in homes were: Blomia tjibodas (30.1%), Glycyphagus destructor (22.5%) and Tyrophagus putrescentiae (10.8%) (63). The prevalence of Storage mites was also reported in other parts of Chile (64).

In Valdivia, Chile, of 100 consecutive paediatric asthma patients evaluated, 80 were confirmed to have positive skin test to at least 1 mite species. All patients with skin reactivity for mites were positive to D. pteronyssinus, 99% to D. farinae, 92% to E. maynei, 80% to L. destructor, 73% to T. putrescientae, 72% to B. tropicalis, 70% to A. siro and 68% to C. arcuatus. All of the patients with severe persistent asthma had skin reactivity to mites, as did 85% in the moderate group, and 73% in the mild group. Ninety-five percent of patients with asthma and allergic rhinitis were shown to have skin reactivity to mites, as were 92% of patients with asthma and eczema and 100% of patients with asthma, allergic rhinitis and eczema (65).

In the US, the Storage mite sensitisation most frequently reported in Wisconsin dairy farmers was to L. destructor, followed by T. putrescentiae in 6 of 8 subjects studied (66). Serum samples from 600 people randomly selected from a 1-day submission of approximately 3,000 samples from a southwestern Ohio population to a clinical diagnostic laboratory were screened for IgE to allergens of L. destructor and A. siro.

Thirty-two (5.3%) of the 600 serum samples screened had IgE antibodies to allergens from at least 1 of the 2 mite species; 14 (2.3%) and 20 (3.3%) had allergen-specific IgE to proteins of the mites A. siro and L. destructor, respectively. Thirty-nine (6.5%) and 55 (9.2%) had serum IgE antibodies to proteins of T. putrescentiae and Dermatophagoides species, respectively. Fifteen (21.4%) of the 70 mite-positive people were sensitised to only T. putrescentiae, and 24 (34.3%) were cosensitised to both Storage and House dust mites (67).

Researchers have stated that persons exposed to stored product mites through occupational settings, or through consumption of food containing these mites, are at risk of sensitisation and allergic reaction (68). Therefore, not surprisingly, food-contaminating mites are reported to have caused IgE-mediated allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, in persons who consumed mite-contaminated foods (69). Anaphylaxis has been described in 2 individuals shortly after they ate food contaminated by T. putrescentiae (70). Similarly, occupational allergy to T. putrescentiae has been reported in food manufacturers (71).

Airborne contact dermatitis to T. putrescentiae has been described (72), as well as occupational contact urticariadermatitis (73).

The 3 mm threshold in skin tests has been reported not to be reliable in evaluating sensitisation to T. putrescentiae, due to an insufficient specificity of the allergen extract (74). 

Compiled by Dr Harris Steinman, harris@zingsolutions.com


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