Association of allergy-related symptoms with sensitisation to common allergens in an adult European population

Syed Hasan Arshad, Wilfried Karmaus, S. Matthews, B. Mealy, Taraneh Dean, Thomas Frischer, S. Tsitoura, J. Bojarskas, Joachim Kuehr, Johannes Forster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND:Atopy is an important risk factor for asthma and allergic diseases. However, the relationship between atopy and allergic symptoms is not fully understood, and may not be the same for different allergy related symptoms and in differing environmental conditions.OBJECTIVE:To study the differences in the association of allergy-related symptoms and atopy, in an adult population from five European countries.METHODS:A prospective, multi-national study was conducted. Centres included Isle of Wight (UK), Vienna (Austria), Freiburg (Germany), Athens (Greece), and Kaunas (Lithuania). We used five questions derived from the ISAAC (International Study of Asthma and Allergy in Children) and other validated questionnaire, to evaluate the presence of allergic symptoms in a selected adult population. Atopy was assessed by SPT or IgE measurement to 3 core allergens (dust mite, cat and grass pollen) in all centres and 1-2 additional allergens relevant to each area (parietaria, olive, birch pollen, tree pollen mix, dog).RESULTS:Of 3985 subjects, 2478 (62%) responded positively to one or more core ISAAC questions. Sensitisation rate was high in Austria and UK and relatively low in Greece. Dust mite and cat were important allergens for asthma, odds ratio (OR): 2.24, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.63-3.08 and OR: 2.31, CI: 1.69-3.14, respectively. Grass pollen was strongly associated with hay fever in all centres (OR: 3.62 CI: 2.81-4.66) and with birch pollen in Austria (OR: 3.57, CI: 2.09-6.09) and with parietaria in Greece (4.61 (2.99-7.12). In the comparative analysis, using UK as a reference, Lithuanians had a 10-20-fold reduced risk of asthma and hay fever, but were twice more likely to report chronic itching. The risk of dust mite allergy was 3- and 10-fold lower in Lithuania and Greece, respectively, whereas the risk of cat and grass pollen allergy was one and half times higher in Austria.CONCLUSION:The risk of allergic symptoms and sensitisation and their association vary widely in different European countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-102
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Investigational Allergology and Clinical Immunology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2001


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