Wall pellitory (officinalis)

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Code: w19
Latin name: Parietaria officinalis
Source material: Pollen
Family: Urticaceae
Common names: Wall Pellitory, Pellitory-of-the-Wall, Parietaire, Spreading Pellitory, Lichwort, Hammerwort

See also: Wall pellitory w21 (Parietaria judaica).

Allergen Exposure

Wall Pellitory is a common weed around the Mediterranean and along the west coast of Europe as far north as central England. It is found in Spain, Greece, Italy, Israel, and has been introduced in other parts of Western Europe and in Australia and Argentina. Two closely related species are found in the US and one in Brazil.

The genus Parietaria has about 10 species, which are highly cross-reactive to each other. Parietaria pollen allergens (officinalis, judaica, lusitanica, creatica) are one of the most common causes of pollinosis in areas where the plants grow. A close correlation exists between the species P. judaica and P. officinalis. In some geographical areas one species may dominate, and IgE antibodies to only one of the species can be found in sensitised individuals.

Parietaria officinalis is a sprawling, many-branched, bushy perennial weed, with brittle, reddish stems. It grows from 30 to 100 cm. The leaves are 8 to 17 cm long and oval in shape, with hairs on the veins on the lower surface. The leaves of P. judaica (w21) are about 5cm shorter than those of P. officinalis (w19).

The inconspicuous green stalkless flowers are clustered in the leaf axils. They are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant). In many countries the Wall Pellitory flowers all year round but with distinct peaks in spring and around November. In some areas, Wall Pellitory may flower only from early summer to late fall. This plant is pollinated by wind.

The plant lives preferably on walls (hence the name), rocks, banks, and hedge banks. Wall Pellitory may be used for medicinal purposes.

Allergen Description 

The following allergen has been characterised:

Par o 1; a major allergen of Parietaria officinalis. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)

Par o 1 (13.5 kDa) and Par j 1 (12 kDa), the major allergens from Parietaria, are highly cross-reactive. (5) In this event, it may be that Par o 1 is a Lipid Transfer Protein, in lieu of Par j 1 being one.

A profilin has also been detected in Parietaria judaica pollen, but the allergen has not been fully characterised. (12) As a high degree of cross-reactivity exists between this plant and P. officinalis, it is likely that the latter also contains a profilin.

See also the more extensively studied and highly cross-reactive Wall Pellitory w21.

Potential Cross-Reactivity

An extensive cross-reactivity among the different individual species of the genus could be expected, as well as to a certain degree among members of the family Urticaceae. (13) However, for Parietaria cross-reactivity with other family members of different genera does not appear to be the case in general. RAST-inhibition demonstrated the absence of cross-reactivity between Parietaria and Urtica. (14, 15, 16) Also, utilising an ELISA inhibition test, no cross-reactivity could be demonstrated between Ramie (Boehmeria nivea), a member of the Urticaceae family, a weed widely distributed throughout Japan and Southeast Asia, and Parietaria (P. officinalis and P. judaica). (17)

Extensive cross-reactivity occurs within the Parietaria genus. Par o 1 (13.5 kDa) and Par j 1 (12 kDa), the major allergens from Parietaria, are highly cross-reactive, and a high homology has been shown between P. judaica (Par j 1), P. officinalis (Par o 1), P. lusitanica and P. mauritanica (Par m 1). (18, 19)

Although a profilin has not been characterised in Parietaria plants, by inference they must contain profilin. (12) Significant but low antigenic cross-reactivity has been demonstrated among Mercurialis annua, Olea europaea, Fraxinus elatior, Ricinus communis, Salsola kali, Parietaria judaica and Artemisia vulgaris by several in vitro techniques. (20) Parietaria profilin shows only limited cross-reactivity with Birch and grass profilins. Less than 50% of patients sensitized to Birch and grass profilin cross-react to Parietaria profilin. (21)

Sera from subjects sensitised to White Cypress, Pine, Italian Cypress, Ryegrass or Birch pollen were shown to have IgE antibodies that reacted with pollen from these and from Cocksfoot, Couch Grass, Lamb's Quarter, Wall Pellitory, Olive, Plantain and Ragweed. The authors conclude that the presence of pollen-reactive IgE antibodies may not necessarily be a true reflection of sensitising pollen species. (22)

The recombinant Juniperus oxycedrus pollen allergen rJun o 2 (Cupressaceae family) has a significant sequence similarity to the calcium-binding proteins called calmodulins, and immunoblotting inhibition tests demonstrated that J. oxycedrus, J. ashei, Cupressus arizonica, C. sempervirens, Parietaria judaica, Olea europaea, and Lolium perenne pollen extracts were able to inhibit IgE binding to blotted rJun o 2. (23) The inference is that that if close cross-reactivity occurs between Juniperus oxycedrus, other members of the Cupressaceae, and Parietaria judaica, then the possibility exists that these pollens may affect individuals sensitised to Pareitaria judaica and thus also to Pareitaria officinalis.

Sensitisation to Pistachio is common in Parietaria allergy. (24)

This study describes two patients with allergic rhinitis and positive skin prick tests to Parietaria and beet only. Laboratory assays showed beet-specific IgE antibodies in the sera of both patients and possible cross-reactivity between Parietaria and Beet in one patient. (25)

A study investigating immunological cross-reactivity between Par o 1 and the VP4 protein of rotavirus, the main etiological agent of gastroenteritis in children, found that antibodies specifically binding Par o 1 were extensively cross-reactive with RRVP4. (2)

Clinical Experience

IgE mediated reactions

Parietaria pollen can induce asthma, allergic rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis. (5, 26, 27)

For further information see the more extensively studied and highly cross-reactive Wall Pellitory w21 (Parietaria judaica).

In vitro determination of IgE antibodies to P. officialis is a tool in detection of Parietaria sensitisation. (28)

Compiled by Dr Harris Steinman, harris@allergyadvisor.com


  1. International Union of Immunological Societies Allergen Nomenclature: IUIS official list http://www.allergen.org. Accessed 11 December 2011.
  2. di Somma C, Fiore L, Di Lonardo A, Ridolfi B, Garzillo C, Chersi A, Buono C, Menna T, Ruffilli A. Cross-reactivity between the major Parietaria allergen and rotavirus VP4 protein. Allergy 2003;58(6):503-10.
  3. Oreste U, Coscia MR, Scotto d'Abusco A, Santonastaso V, Ruffilli A. Purification and characterization of Par o I, major allergen of Parietaria officinalis pollen. Int Arch Allergy Appl Immunol 1991;96(1):19-27.
  4. Menna T, Cassese G, Di Modugno F, Chersi A, Buono C, Ruffilli A. Characterization of a dodecapeptide containing a dominant epitope of Par j 1 and Par o 1, the major allergens of P. judaica and P. officinalis pollen. Allergy 1999;54(10):1048-57.
  5. Colombo P, Bonura A, Costa M, Izzo V, Passantino R, Locorotondo G, Amoroso S, Geraci D. The Allergens of Parietaria. Int Arch Allergy Immunol 2003;130(3):173-9.
  6. Scotto d'Abusco AS, De Santo C, Menna T, Coscia MR, Oreste U, Geller-Bernstein C, Ruffilli A. Characterization of a dominant antigenic determinant of Par o I encoded by recombinant DNA. Clin Exp Allergy 1996 Feb;26(2):223-31.
  7. Kahlert H, Weber B, Teppke M, Wahl R, Cromwell O, Fiebig H. Characterization of major allergens of Parietaria officinalis. Int Arch Allergy Immunol 1996;109(2):141-9.
  8. Coscia MR, Ruffilli A, Oreste U. Basic isoforms of Par o 1, the major allergen of Parietaria officinalis pollen. Allergy 1995;50(11):899-904.
  9. Ayuso R, Carreira J, Polo F. Quantitation of the major allergen of several Parietaria pollens by an anti-Par 1 monoclonal antibody-based ELISA. Analysis of crossreactivity among purified Par j 1, Par o 1 and Par m 1 allergens. Clin Exp Allergy 1995;25(10):993-9.
  10. Giuliani A, Pini C, Bonini S, Mucci N, Ferroni L, Vicari G Isolation and purification of a major allergen from Parietaria officinalis pollen. Allergy 1987;42:434-40.
  11. Ruffilli A, Oreste U, Santonastaso V, Scotto D' Abusco A, Sacerdoti G. Low molecular weight allergens of the pollen of Parietaria officinalis. Mol Immunol 1987;24(3):305-12.
  12. Benitez D, Garcia-Ortega P, Picado C, Mila J, Vives J, Martinez J, Vilella R. Specific immune response to Phleum pratense plant profilin in atopic patients and control subjects. Allergol Immunopathol (Madr) 2001;29(1):9-15.
  13. Yman L. Botanical relations and immunological cross-reactions in pollen allergy. 2nd ed. Pharmacia Diagnostics AB. Uppsala. Sweden. 1982: ISBN 91-970475-09.
  14. Bousquet J, Hewitt B, Guerin B, Dhivert H, Michel FB. Allergy in the Mediterranean area. II: Cross-allergenicity among Urticaceae pollens (Parietaria and Urtica). Clin Allergy 1986;16(1):57-64.
  15. Corbi AL, Cortes C, Bousquet J, Basomba A, Cistero A, Garcia-Selles J, d'Amato G, Carreira J. Allergenic cross-reactivity among pollens of Urticaceae. Int Arch Allergy Appl Immunol 1985;77(4):377-83.
  16. Vega-Maray AM, Fernandez-Gonzalez D, Valencia-Barrera R, Suarez-Cervera M. Allergenic proteins in Urtica dioica, a member of the Urticaceae allergenic family. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2006;97(3):343-49.
  17. Miura N. Ramie (Boehmeria nivea) pollen-induced bronchial asthma and allergenic cross-reactivity of ramie and Parietaria. Arerugi 1993;42(5):649-55.
  18. Scotto d'Abusco AS, De Santo C, Menna T, Coscia MR, Oreste U, Geller-Bernstein C, Ruffilli A. Characterization of a dominant antigenic determinant of Par o I encoded by recombinant DNA. Clin Exp Allergy 1996;26(2):223-31.
  19. Ayuso R, Carreira J, Polo F. Quantitation of the major allergen of several Parietaria pollens by an anti-Par 1 monoclonal antibody- based ELISA. Analysis of crossreactivity among purified Par j 1, Par o 1 and Par m 1 allergens. Clin Exp Allergy 1995;25:993-9.
  20. Vallverdu A, Garcia-Ortega P, Martinez J, Martinez A, Esteban MI, de Molina M, Fernandez-Tavora L, Fernandez J, Bartolome B, Palacios R. Mercurialis annua: characterization of main allergens and cross-reactivity with other species. Int Arch Allergy Immunol 1997;112(4):356-64.
  21. Asero R, Mistrello G, Roncarolo D, Amato S. Parietaria profilin shows only limited cross-reactivity with birch and grass profilins. Int Arch Allergy Immunol 2004;133(2):121-24.
  22. Pham NH, Baldo BA. Allergenic relationship between taxonomically diverse pollens. Clin Exp Allergy 1995;25(7):599-606.
  23. Tinghino R, Barletta B, Palumbo S, Afferni C, Iacovacci P, Mari A, Di Felice G, Pini C. Molecular characterization of a cross-reactive Juniperus oxycedrus pollen allergen, Jun o 2: a novel calcium-binding allergen. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1998;101(6 Pt 1):772-7.
  24. Liccardi G, Russo M, Mistrello G, Falagiani P, D'Amato M, D'Amato G. Sensitization to pistachio is common in Parietaria allergy. Allergy 1999;54(6):643-5.
  25. Minciullo PL, Mistrello G, Patafi M, Zanoni D, Gangemi S. Cross-reactivity between Parietaria pollen and beet. Allergol Immunopathol (Madr ) 2007;35(2):74-5.
  26. Cvitanovic S. Allergy to Parietaria Officinalis Pollen. Croat Med J 1999;40(1):42-8.
  27. Bonura A, Artale A, Marino M, Amoroso S, Marcucci F, Geraci D, Colombo P. Cross-reactivity between Parietaria species using the major rParj1 and rParj2 allergens. Allergy Asthma Proc 2006;27(5):378-82.
  28. Scordamaglia A, Passalacqua G, Ruffoni S, Parodi MN, Ciprandi G, Canonica GW. Two screening methods for detection of specific IgE to inhalant allergens. Comparison with skin prick test and RAST. J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 1991;1(5):324-9.


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