Limited genetic control of specific IgE responses to rye grass pollen allergens in Australian twins
Background Both genetic and environmental factors are thought to contribute to specific IgE responses, however, the relative contribution of each in the responses to individual ryegrass pollen allergens is largely unknown even though some responses to allergens have been linked to certain HLA complexes. Objective Using a large group of monozygotic and dizygotic twins, this study designed to investigate the IgE binding profiles of individual ryegrass pollen (Lolium perenne) components to assess the relative contribution of genetic and environmental factors in determining IgE responses to specific allergens. Methods Ryegrass pollen proteins were separated by electrophoresis and immunoblotted with sera from 191 pairs of twins where at least one sibling had a SPT > 2 mm to perennial ryegrass. Concordance levels for individual ryegrass pollen components were compared between monozygotic and dizygotic twins in a subset group where both twins had SPT > 3 mm to perennial ryegrass. Results Immunoblotting revealed 23 individual IgE-binding components from ryegrass pollen, Although there was a significantly greater proportion of monozygotic twins with SPT wheals greater than 3 mm when compared with the dizygotic twins, the mean case-wise concordance for the immunoblot components was similar for both groups of twins. The mean case-wise concordance when at least four pairs of sera were involved was 44% for the MZ twins (n = 11 components) and 45% for the DZ twins (n = 12 components). We found no significant differences in concordance levels for any of the 23 individual components including allergens previously-associated with HLA. Conclusion Evidence for genetic control of allergen-specific IgE responses in a large population sample of twins to individual ryegrass allergens is limited, indicating that the ISE responses to specific ryegrass pollen allergens are determined largely by environmental factors.