Key Allergens

There are 7 allergens associated with allergy to birch pollen. The most important of which is called Bet v 1. These proteins are sometimes also called PR-10 as they are used by the plant in pathogenesis (defence against disease).

Bet v 2 is a profilin allergen, which is another common group of proteins.

Bet v 3 and 4 are both polcalcin proteins, these are another group of panallergens (where there are more allergens across plants and food groups), these are associated with calcium binding in the plant.

Birch pollen is most prevalent in the UK between March and June, peaking in April. This varies in different countries. It is considered to have high allergenicity.

Associated Syndromes

You will see the Bet v 1 allergen mentioned in many pages on this website as it is a protein that has a common shape. If you are allergic to birch pollen, particularly the Bet v 1 protein then you can suffer oral allergy type symptoms to other fruits, nuts, herbs, spices and vegetables if they are similarly shaped. This is known as Pollen-Food Allergy Syndrome. You may be suffering from this syndrome if you suffer from oral allergy symptoms to 3 or more of the foods mentioned in cross reactivity section.

An allergy to birch pollen is strongly associated with seasonal allergic rhinitis (hayfever) as well as asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis and atopic dermatitis.

Cross Reactivity

If sensitised to birch pollen you may have Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome and may also react to foods such as almond, aniseed, apple, apricot, carrot, celery, cherry, chestnut, dill, soya, fenugreek, fig, hazelnut, jackfruit, kiwi, mango, melon, mung beans, parsley, parsnip, peach, peanut, pear, persimmon, plum, poppy seeds, raspberry, strawberry, tomato and walnuts.

Other tree pollens with Bet v 1 like proteins are alder, oak hazel and hornbeam.

Profilin allergens can be considered both pollen allergens and food allergens. Other plant pollens containing profilin are ragweed, mugwort, bermuda grass, sunflower, olive, rice, timothy grass, poplar, mesquite and maize. Foods containing profilin proteins are almond, aniseed, apple, aubergine, banana, barley, beetroot, peppers, carrot, celery, cherry, coriander, corn, courgette, cucumber, cumin, date, soya, fennel, fig, hazelnut, kiwi, lychee, mango, melon, mustard onion, orange, parsley, parsnip, peach, peanut, pear, persimmon, pineapple, plum, poppy seed, quinoa, rice, strawberry, sunflower seeds, tomato, walnut, wheat and lupin. There is a lot of cross over between profilin and Bet v 1 protein foods.

Other plant pollens which contain polcalcin proteins are ragweed, mugwort, birch, timothy grass, lilac and olive. There is also a polcalcin protein in turnips which is associated with this allergy presenting itself as a food allergy.



Worcester Pollen Forecast

Allergen Encyclopedia - Birch Pollen

Allergy UK - Allergic rhinitis

Allergy UK - Managing your asthma and your allergic rhinitis throughout the seasons

Articles and Journals

PR10-related food allergies in French birch allergic children, 2024

Clinical Relevance of Profilin Sensitization Concerning Oral Allergy Syndrome in Birch Pollen Sensitized Patients, 2022

Birch allergen challenges in allergic conjunctivitis using standard conjunctival allergen challenge and environmental exposure chamber, 2021

Birch pollen allergy in Europe, 2019

Real‐world benefits of allergen immunotherapy for birch pollen‐associated allergic rhinitis and asthma, 2018

Tree pollen allergens—an update from a molecular perspective, 2015

Glutathione-S-transferase: a minor allergen in birch pollen due to limited release from hydrated pollen, 2014

Panallergens and their impact on the allergic patient, 2010

Different IgE reactivity profiles in birch pollen-sensitive patients from six European populations revealed by recombinant allergens: an imprint of local sensitization, 2002

Molecular cloning and characterization of a birch pollen minor allergen, Bet v 5, belonging to a family of isoflavone reductase-related proteins, 1999

Immunological and biological properties of Bet v 4, a novel birch pollen allergen with two EF-hand calcium-binding domains, 1997

Characterization of a birch pollen allergen, Bet v III, representing a novel class of Ca2+ binding proteins: specific expression in mature pollen and dependence of patients' IgE binding on protein-bound Ca2+, 1994

Isolation and immunochemical characterization of the major allergen of birch pollen (Betula verrucosa), 1983

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