Sensitization to natural rubber latex has been linked to proteins from medical latex gloves. Various assays to estimate the amount of residual allergenic proteins extractable from latex gloves to assess their potential exposure hazard have inherent weaknesses.
This investigation was aimed at developing 2-site immunoenzymetric assays and identifying appropriate protein markers to assess the allergenic potential of latex gloves.
The presence of 6 latex allergens--Hev b 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 13--was measured in a cross-section of commercial latex medical gloves by using monoclonal and polyclonal antibody-based 2-site immunoenzymetric assays. The overall allergenic potential of these gloves was assessed by IgE-inhibition assay. Stepwise multiple regression analyses were performed to identify marker allergens that best explained the variation in latex glove allergenicity.
All 6 latex allergens were detected in at least some of the glove samples. Hev b 5 and Hev b 13 were identified as the marker allergens that combined best to explain the variation in the glove allergenicity. The significant multiple correlation (R=0.855) between these 2 markers and glove allergenic potency forms the basis of an assay to gauge latex glove allergenicity.
The overall allergenic potential of latex gloves can be estimated by using Hev b 5 and Hev b 13 as indicator allergens. The correlation between glove allergenicity and the level of these allergens was maintained for low-protein gloves (<200 microg/g). This estimation of glove allergenicity was superior to that obtained by using total protein readings.
Hevea brasiliensis latex serum is commonly used as the in vivo and in vitro reference antigen for latex allergy diagnosis as it contains the full complement of latex allergens.
This study quantifies the concentrations of the significant allergens in latex serum and examines its suitability as an antigen source in latex allergy diagnosis and immunotherapy.
The serum phase was extracted from centrifuged latex that was repeatedly freeze-thawed or glycerinated. Quantitation of latex allergens was performed by two-site immunoenzymetric assays. The abundance of RNA transcripts of the latex allergens was estimated from the number of their clones in an Expressed Sequence Tags library.
The latex allergens, Hev b 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 13, were detected in freeze-thawed and glycerinated latex serum at levels ranging from 75 (Hev b 6) to 0.06 nmol/mg total proteins (Hev b 4). Hev b 6 content in the latex was up to a thousand times higher than the other seven latex allergens, depending on source and/or preparation procedure. Allergen concentration was reflected in the abundance of mRNA transcripts. When used as the antigen, latex serum may bias the outcome of latex allergy diagnostic tests towards sensitization to Hev b 6. Tests that make use of latex serum may fail to detect latex-specific IgE reactivity in subjects who are sensitized only to allergens that are present at low concentrations.
Latex allergy diagnostics and immunotherapy that use whole latex serum as the antigen source may not be optimal because of the marked imbalance of its constituent allergens.