Bacterial endotoxin in allergenic pollens

Radoslaw Spiewak, Czeslawa Skorska

Department of Aerobiology, Institute of Agricultural Medicine, Lublin, Poland

Published in: R. Spiewak (Editor): "Pollens and Pollinosis: Current Problems". Institute of Agricultural Medicine, Lublin (Poland) 1995, pages 38-39. (The book's table of contents.)


To evaluate the endotoxin concentration in allergenic pollens of anemophilous plants.


Samples of rye pollen (Secale cereale, harvested 1994), mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris, harvested 1994), birch (Betula verrucosa, 1994), and alder (Alnus glutinosa, 1995).


The pollens were suspended in a 0.9 %, sterile and pyrogen-free NaCl solution. Next the LAL test (Limulus Amebocyte Lysate, Pyroquant Diagnostik, Germany) was carried out with serial dilutions of the prepared suspension (2, 10). The endotoxin concentration was determined by comparing to result of the test with standard E. Coli EC-5 endotoxin (Pyroquant Diagnostik, Germany).


Results are shown in the Table 1. The endotoxin concentration in the tested samples of allergenic pollens ranged from 3.75 to 37.5 ng/mg, with the lowest concentration in rye pollen sample, and the highest one in mugwort pollen.

Table 1.


Endotoxin concentration

Rye (Secale cereale) 1994


Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) 1994


Alder (Alnus glutinosa) 1995


Hazel (Corylus avellana)1995



So far, only a little attention was paid to the role of pollen microflora in pollinosis. In the sixties Colldahl and Carlsson [1] have suggested that microorganisms present on the pollen may play a relevant role in pollinosis. There were however no further studies on this topic. To the best of our knowledge, the role of bacterial endotoxin present on pollen grains in the etiopathogenesis of pollinosis has been never studied, despite the fact that the multi-way effect of endotoxin upon the immune system is known [5, 9]. On the basis of the preliminary results of our study it is difficult to give certain opinion. The described endotoxin amounts are 10-1000 times smaller than concentrations in dusts with a known potent endotoxic effect [3, 4, 8]. On the other hand, however, they are up to 10 times higher in comparison to endotoxin concentrations in house dust [6, 7].


The concentrations of bacterial endotoxin on allergenic pollen grains may suggest that it plays a role in etiopathogenesis of pollinosis. However, further research on this topic is neccessary.

Acknowledgements: This study was kindly supported by the company Biomed, Krakow.


  1. Colldahl H., Carlsson G. Allergens in pollen. Acta Allergol 1968, 23, 387-395.
  2. Dutkiewicz J. Bacteria, fungi and endotoxin in stored timber logs and airborne sawdust in Poland. In: O'Rear C.E., Llewellyn G.C. (Eds). Biodeterioration Research 2. Plenum Press, New York 1989.
  3. Dutkiewicz J. et al. Levels of bacteria, fungi and endotoxin in stored timber. Int Biodeterioration 1992, 30, 29-46.
  4. Dutkiewicz J. et al. Airborne microorganisms and endotoxin in animal houses. Grana 1994, 33, 85-90.
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  6. Michel O. et al. Domestic endotoxin exposure and clinical severity of asthma. Clin Exp Allergy 1991, 21, 441-448.
  7. Peterson R.D.A., Wicklund P.E., Good R.A. Endotoxin activity of a house dust extract. J Allergy 1964, 35, 134-142.
  8. Rylander R., Haglind P., Lundholm M. Endotoxin in cotton dust and respiratory function decrement among cotton workers in an experimental cardroom. Am Rev Respir Dis 1985, 131, 209-213.
  9. Ulich T.R. et al. Endotoxin-induced cytokine gene expression in vivo. III. IL-6 mRNA and serum protein expression and the in vivo hematologic effects of IL-6. J Immunol 1991, 146, 2316-2323.
  10. Wildfeuer A. et al. Investigations on the specificity of the Limulus test for the detection of endotoxin. Appl Microbiol 1974, 28, 867-871.

The final results of this study were published in:

  1. Spiewak R, Skorska C, Prazmo Z, Dutkiewicz J. Bacterial endotoxin associated with pollen as a potential factor aggravating pollinosis. Ann Agric Environ Med 1996, 3, 57-59.
  2. Spiewak R, Krysinska-Traczyk E, Sitkowska J, Dutkiewicz J. Microflora of allergenic pollens - a preliminary study. Ann Agric Environ Med 1996, 3, 127-130.

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