Allergen chip identifies allergies in horses

February 28, 2018, Medical University of Vienna
Credit: Medical University of Vienna

An allergen microchip developed at the Medical University of Vienna can be used to identify allergic sensitisation in horses. This is the main finding of an international study recently published in leading journal Allergy. "Our best friends are more like us than we perhaps thought – even in terms of their immune system," explains lead author of the study, Erika Jensen-Jarolim, who has dual affiliation, both to MedUni Vienna's Institute of Pathophysiology and Allergy Research and to the inter-university Messerli Research Institute of Vienna University of Veterinary Medicine, the Medical University of Vienna and the University of Vienna.

The study showed that horses develop an antibody reaction by producing immunoglobulin E – similar to the IgE profile in humans. IgE is an antibody primarily intended to defend against parasites but it is also responsible for allergies and is an important biomarker for the early detection of allergies. Even in the case of horses, a single drop of blood is enough to test for allergies using the allergen microchip.

The international study consortium headed up by Jensen-Jarolim, also comprising researchers from Germany, Switzerland and Japan, was able to identify a strong IgE immune system reaction, particularly to buckwheat but also to alder pollen and Bermuda grass (also called "dogtooth grass" in German), which is becoming increasingly widespread in Austria. "Buckwheat is often used as a high-protein pseudo-cereal in horse treats and horse muesli," explains Jensen-Jarolim. "The reaction to pollen from flat-leaved Bermuda grass, in particular, is explained by the fact that, when horses are grazing, they have their noses right down to the ground. In collaboration with Uwe Berger and his team from MedUni Vienna's Pollen Monitoring Service, we now intend to investigate the flora found in paddocks."

This first of all requires a clinical investigation to ascertain whether and to what extent these allergens are linked to the allergic reactions commonly found in horses, such as coughs, colic and skin problems. "However, just like the IgE test in human sufferers, our results are, at any rate, a strong indication of the direction to take in further diagnostic investigations," says Jensen-Jarolim. The chip is already being successfully used for diagnosing allergies in humans and is now available for horses as well. Similar tests are currently being developed for dogs too – these study findings should be available in the near future.

Affected horses could then be put on an elimination diet that totally avoids any suspected allergens to see whether their symptoms improve.

Explore further: Basis of allergic reaction to birch pollen identified

More information: L. Einhorn et al. Molecular allergen profiling in horses by microarray reveals Fag e 2 from buckwheat as a frequent sensitizer, Allergy (2018). DOI: 10.1111/all.13417

Related Stories

Basis of allergic reaction to birch pollen identified

June 5, 2014
In Austria alone around 400,000 people are afflicted by a birch pollen allergy and its associated food intolerances. Why so many people have allergic reactions to birch pollen has still not been completely explained. It is ...

Food allergies—animals and humans may have more in common than you think

August 23, 2017
People are not the only ones suffering from the symptoms and problems of food intolerance and allergies. Other mammals, such as cats, dogs and horses, are affected as well. The Messerli Research Institute, a cooperation between ...

Vitamin A in cattle fodder is could protect against cow's milk allergy

February 6, 2018
Infants can sometimes develop an allergy to cow's milk that usually subsides by adulthood but may increase the risk for developing other allergic diseases. The allergic reaction can, however, be prevented by two components ...

First vaccine developed against grass pollen allergy

January 18, 2018
Around 400 million people worldwide suffer in some form or other from a grass pollen allergy (rhinitis), with the usual symptoms of runny nose, cough and severe breathing problems. In collaboration with the Viennese firm ...

Women suffer from asthma symptoms more frequently and more severely than men

March 7, 2017
Women suffer more frequently and more severely from pollen and food allergies and therefore also from asthma. Firstly, female sex hormones increase the risk and symptoms of asthma and allergies and, secondly, hormone preparations ...

Food insects for reptile pets shuttle allergens into homes

October 30, 2015
Reptiles are often chosen as pets when an allergy risk exists within a family and the choice is made to avoid potentially allergenic pets such as dogs, cats or guinea pigs. Researchers at the Messerli Research Institute, ...

Recommended for you

Gene variant found in brain complicit in MS onset

December 18, 2018
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease affecting the function of the central nervous system. Up to now, most of the 230 genetic variants associated with the disease have been linked to changes in immune cells. However, ...

Gut microbiome regulates the intestinal immune system, researchers find

December 18, 2018
Scientist have long known that bacteria in the intestines, also known as the microbiome, perform a variety of useful functions for their hosts, such as breaking down dietary fiber in the digestive process and making vitamins ...

How a single faulty gene can lead to lupus

December 18, 2018
A research team at the Academy of Immunology and Microbiology, within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) & Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) in South Korea has discovered the role of a key gene involved ...

Metal chemotherapy drugs boost the impact of immunotherapy in cancer

December 18, 2018
Due to their powerful tumour-killing effect, metal-based chemotherapies are frequently used in cancer treatment. However, it was hitherto assumed that they damaged the immune system, because of their cytotoxic (cell-damaging) ...

Clues to chronic fatigue syndrome in overactive immune response

December 18, 2018
New research from King's College London finds that an exaggerated immune response can trigger long-lasting fatigue, potentially explaining how chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) begins. The study is the most in-depth biological ...

Protein police keep the immune system in check

December 17, 2018
Our immune systems defend our bodies against dangerous invaders and help clean up when damage is done. But if our bold protectors are left unsupervised, they sometimes do their jobs too well and end up harming healthy tissues. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.