Differential diagnosis between ragweed and mugwort pollen allergy represents a large clinical problem in areas where both plants are present. The aim of this study was to investigate ragweed- and mugwort-sensitized patients to identify specific IgE reactivity profiles. Results were correlated to clinical findings such as medical history and health-related quality of life (HRQL).
Seventy-four patients with allergic rhinoconjunctivitis between July and October were examined and underwent in vivo tests (skin-prick test [SPT] and nasal provocation). Sera were evaluated for IgE reactivity to mugwort and ragweed pollen extracts, major (Art v 1; Amb a 1) and minor (profilin and calcium-binding protein) allergens. HRQL was evaluated using a standardized questionnaire.
Seventy-one patients revealed positive SPT reactivity against mugwort and 60 patients against ragweed extracts. Of these patients, 74 revealed IgE antibodies against mugwort extracts, whereas anti-Art v 1 antibodies were detectable in 50 individuals. Fifty-five patients showed IgE antibodies against natural ragweed extracts; anti-Amb v 1 antibodies were detected in six cases only. Using standardized clinical history and HRQL questionnaires we were not able to detect any differences within different reactivity patterns.
Within the investigated population of 74 weed-allergic patients the prevalence of true mugwort and ragweed sensitization can be calculated as 68 and 8%. High prevalence of ragweed sensitization when testing with full extracts can be explained by cross-reactivity between other weeds, e.g., mugwort rather than cosensitization. Differences in medical history and HRQL between different reactivity patterns were not detectable.