Lepidoglyphus destructor

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Code: d71
Latin name: Lepidoglyphus destructor
Family: Acaridae
Common names: Storage mite

Allergen Exposure

Geographical distribution

See common geographical background to mites in our Scientific Document (link to the right).

These food mites are tiny and barely visible, varying from 0.3 to 0.6 mm. Using strong magnification, one can notice that the body has no incision between the 2nd and the 3rd leg pairs. The males possess no suction pads; in the females, a short copulation pipe is visible. For both sexes, the body bristles are very long and feathery. Unlike Gylcyphagus domesticus, these mites have an inserted, elongated, and pointed scale on the end segment of the legs. Nevertheless, the scale is difficult to recognise if it is not spread out. Their eggs are quite large, compared with the size of the adult.


See common environmental background to mites in our Scientific Document (link to the right).

This mite can often be found where plant or even animal foods are processed and stored at a humidity level that is too high. Fungi that grow in the foodstuffs, as well as the foodstuffs themselves, are consumed by the mites; this has been demonstrated in the case of Alternaria and Penicillium species. This species is rarely detected in house dust, do not carry any diseases and do not infest any form of life directly, but may result in allergic reactions. These mites develop at a relative air humidity of 65 - 100% and a temperature of approximately 20 - 30°C, and do not tend to avoid the light.

Unexpected exposure

Mites were found in 21% of 571 samples of cereal-based food products purchased at food retail outlets in the UK, and in 38% of 421 samples, derived from the 571 samples, which were examined after 6 weeks of storage in volunteers’ homes. Most of the samples had fewer than 5 mites, but a few samples contained more than 20 mites, with a maximum of 428 mites detected in a single sample. The most common species were Acarus siro, Tyrophagus putrescentiae, Lepidoglyphus destructor and Glycyphagus domesticus (1).


Many allergenic proteins have been isolated from L. destructor (2-3).

Early studies recognised that at least 2 of these were major allergen components, as they were recognised by more than 50% of the 43 sera used in the study. The 2 IgEbinding components had molecular weights of approximately 18 kDa and 16 kDa (4). Other important allergens detected were a 39 kDa (5-6), a 15 kDa and a highmolecular- weight allergen complex (of 79 and 93 kDa) (7-8). A 14 kDa protein was identified as a major allergen, binding with 95% of the patient sera (9).

A number of allergens have subsequently been characterised:

  • Lep d 1, renamed Lep d 2.
  • Lep d 2, a 13.2 kDa protein (10-23).
  • Lep d 3 (24).
  • Lep d 5 (17-18,25).
  • Lep d 7 (17-18,25).
  • Lep d 8 (26).
  • Lep d 10, a tropomyosin (17-18,27).
  • Lep d 12 (28).
  • Lep d 13 (17-18,25).
  • Lep d 39kD (5-6).
  • Lep d alpha-tubulin (17).

Recombinant allergens:

  • rLep d 2 (13,23).
  • rLep d 3 (24).
  • rLep d 5 (17).
  • rLep d 7 (17).
  • rLep d 8 (26).
  • rLep d 10 (17).
  • rLep d 12 (28).
  • rLep d 13 (25).
  • rLep d alpha-tubulin (17).

A protein belonging to the alpha-tubulin protein family has also been recognised (17). Lep d 2 is recognised by about 90% of patients allergic to this mite (10). Two variants of Lep d 2 have been detected: Lep d 2.0101 and Lep d 2.0201. These differ at 13 amino acid positions. The Lep d 2 sequence diversity appears to have no significant impact on the allergen’s IgE binding or its ability to induce T cell cytokine release (29).

In an evaluation of rLep d 2 and rTyr p 2 of T. putrescentiae through skin tests and serological analysis in sensitised and nonsensitised farmers chronically exposed to Dust mites, it was demonstrated that of the 44 subjects with skin reactivity to L. destructor and/or T. putrescentiae extract, 26 (59%) had skin reactivity to one or the other of the recombinant allergens, while 21 (48%) had it to both. The results suggested that the allergens have similar or shared IgE epitopes (14).

Lep d 5, Lep d 7 and Lep d 13 have been shown to bind to 4/45 (9%), 28/45 (62%) and 6/45 (13%) sera from L. destructorsensitised subjects, respectively (25).

Recombinant Lep d 10 and alpha-tubulin were demonstrated to bind to 13% (18/136) and 12% (11/95) of patients with IgE reactivity to mites and/or crustaceans, respectively (17).

Lep d 39 kD has been shown to bind 46.5% (20/43) of sera from Swedish farmers who were serum-specific IgE-positive to L. destructor. There was a moderate degree of correlation between IgE antibody results to L. destructor and to the 39 kDa allergen. Of 14 sera from Stockholm residents with IgE antibodies to both D. pteronyssinus and L. destructor, 6 detected the 39 kDa allergen component. However, 3 sera from urban subjects lacking IgE antibodies against both mite species also had IgE antibodies against the 39 kDa allergen (5).

Potential cross-reactivity

Co-sensitisation to Storage mites is a frequent finding in patients sensitised to Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus. In a study, extracts of Tyrophagus putrescentiae almost completely inhibited IgE binding to Acarus siro, and vice versa. D. pteronyssinus inhibited IgE binding to all Storage mites up to 60%, whereas IgE binding to D. pteronyssinus was only minimally inhibited by extracts of Storage mites (30). Clinically, though, L. destructor does not have any major allergens in common with the Dermatophagoides species. Although Lep d 1 shows approximately 40% identity with the overlapping regions of Group 2 allergens from the genus Dermatophagoides, these do not share common allergenic epitopes with Lep d 1 (10).

Other studies have confirmed very low immunological cross-reactivity between Pyroglyphidae and non-Pyroglyphidae mites (31), in particular between D. pteronyssinus and L. destructor (32).

The protein sequence of Gly d 2 (Glycyphagus domesticus) has been shown to have a 79% identity with Lep d 2 (L. destructor) and 46% and 41% identity with Tyr p 2 (Tyrophagus putrescentiae) and Der p 2 (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus), respectively. An evaluation of rLep d 2 and rTyr p 2 from T. putrescentiae suggested that the allergens have similar or shared IgE epitopes (14). Extensive cross-reactivity was demonstrated among Gly d 2, Lep d 2, and Tyr p 2, but little cross-reactivity was found between these allergens and Der p 2 (21). Similarly, other studies have reported strong cross-reactivity between L. destructor and the allergenic components of A. siro and T. putrescentiae, while the latter mite species only to a very low degree inhibited the allergenic components of L. destructor (33). A recombinant clone of Pso o 2 from Psoroptes ovis, the Sheep scab mite, has been shown to be homologous to Group 2 mite allergens Lep d 2 of L. destructor, Der f 2 of D. farinae, Der p 2 of D. pteronyssinus, Tyr p 2 of T putrescentiae, Eur m II of E. maynei and Gly d 2 of G. domesticus (34).

A significant though not strong correlation have been reported between IgE antibody responses to G. domesticus and to L. destructor, and to T. putrescentiae and L. destructor (p<0.05). Homologous and heterologous IgE antibody inhibition studies showed there was low cross-reactivity between Storage mites and D. pteronyssinus. L. destructor showed the least inhibition by the other antigens, suggesting it possessed the fewest common allergens (35). Considerable cross-reactivity has been reported to exist between Blomia tropicalis and L. destructor: L. destructor possesses unique as well as common allergens (36). A 14.5 kDa allergen from B. tropicalis was reported to be antigenically cross-reactive with the recombinant L. destructor allergen rLep d 2 (37).

A study demonstrated allergenic crossreactivity between several allergens in Anisakis simplex and 4 Dust mite species (A. siro, L. destructor, T. putrescentiae, and D. pteronyssinus). The clinical significance of this cross-reactivity remains to be evaluated (38).

rTyr p 13 from Tyrophagus putrescentiae has a 61.1 to 85.3% identity with amino acid sequences of other mite Group 13 allergens (39).

Clinical Experience

IgE-mediated reactions

Storage mite allergy was initially reported to involve mainly farmers and grain workers (40-41) (and hay storage workers more than grain storage workers) (42), but more recent studies have reported that the Storage mite G. domesticus, among others, may commonly induce symptoms of asthma and rhinoconjunctivitis in sensitised individuals in both rural and urban settings (43-53). As these Storage mites are found in barns and grain stores, they are important causes of occupational respiratory diseases in farmers (54).

In Europe, L. destructor has been reported to be a major source of mite allergy in rural and urban environments. In the east of France, 43.1% and 44.95% of 105 young adults were shown by a combination of skin tests and IgE antibody measurements to be sensitised to Tyrophagus putrescentiae and L. destructor respectively (55).

In Barcelona, Spain, of 356 children studied, 39 showed cutaneous sensitisation to Storage mites (Acarus siro, Lepidoglyphus destructor and Tyrophagus putrescentiae), which represented 11% of the population studied, and 20% of the total sensitised to mites. However, only 3 of these children were sensitised only to Storage mites, the remaining 36 (92%) also showing sensitisation to House dust mites. Of the Storage mites studied, L. destructor was the most significant (56).

A study conducted in household environments of Valencia, Spain, found that only 3 houses showed levels of L. destructor that were comparable to those found in bakeries (57). Higher levels of sensitisation have been reported from other areas in Spain. In 4379 patients residing in an area of cereal industries in Spain, the prevalence of mite sensitisation was 18.96%. The prevalence of sensitisation to Storage mites among mite-sensitive patients was 11.88%. Among 50 selected patients, the most frequent sensitisation was

to Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (58%), followed by Dermatophagoides farinae (48%), Lepidoglyphus destructor and Tyrophagus putrescentiae (38%), Blomia kulagini (34%), and Acarus siro and Chortoglyphus arcuatus (24%) (58).

A study was done of the prevalence of sensitisation to Glycyphagus domesticus in patients naturally exposed to this mite together with D. pteronyssinus in southwest Spain; it was reported that after D. pteronyssinus and G. domesticus, T. putrescentiae and L. destructor were detected in 3rd and 4th place, respectively (59).

Among 512 consecutive patients with rhinitis and/or asthma, living in urban or rural areas of central Germany and tested for IgE antibodies or skin-tested with extracts of D. pteronyssinus, A. siro, L. destructor, T. putrescentiae and other Storage mites, 103 (20.1%; 77 urban dwellers and 26 farmers) were sensitised to at least 1 of the Storage mites (60). A mite survey conducted in the working environments of 121 farms in 5 regions of Germany reported that of 859 samples, 743 (86.4%) contained mites. Ninety-three percent of all mites belonged to the order Astigmata (Storage and House dust mite species); 35 Astigmata and 14 Prostigmata mite species were identified. The prevalence of the Storage mites was found to be in this order: Lepidoglyphus destructor > Glycyphagus domesticus > Acarus siro > Tyrophagus longior > Blomia tjibodas > Chortoglyphus arcuatus > Thyreophagus entomophagus > Tyrophagus putrescentiae > Euroglyphus longior > Tyrophagus palmarum > Acarus farris > Acarus immobilis > Gohieria fusca (61).

In 136 eastern Polish farming students, skin tests to Storage mites were positive in 30.9%: most frequently to Lepidoglyphus destructor (18.4% of all students), Tyrophagus putrescentiae (15.4%), Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (14.0%), and Acarus siro (13.2%) (62). In Polish farmers, tests for Storage mites showed positive reactions to Acarus siro in 9.6%, Lepidoglyphus destructor in 17.8%, and Tyrophagus putrescentiae in 13.7% (63). In 26 male paper mill workers and 36 postmen evaluated, the paper mill workers manifested a significantly higher frequency of positive skin tests and increased specific IgE to L. destructor and T. putrescentiae, compared to the postmen. Respiratory symptoms were found in 40% of paper mill workers with positive test results to L. destructor, and in 53.8% with positive test results to T. putrescentiae. All postmen with positive test results to L. destructor and 83.3% with positive test results to T. putrescentiae had respiratory symptoms (64). Farmers working and living in rural regions of Austria (Styria, Lower Austria), as well as a group of 26 citizens of Vienna, demonstrated sensitisation to Lepidoglyphus destructor and Tyrophagus putreus. The sensitisation rate to Storage mites was markedly high in city dwellers, though not as high as in the farmers (65).

L. destructor has also been studied in Scandinavian countries and shown to be a relevant allergen there (66). In 2,578 Swedish farmers, 6.2% were found to have an allergy to Storage mites. The Storage mite L. destructor was identified by both allergenspecific IgE antibodies and bronchial challenges as a significant cause of occupational asthma in rural environments (67). On the island of Gotland, Sweden, 5 genera of Storage mites were detected on 16 farms, but the different mite species were not represented on all farms. L. destructor was the dominant species on 13 of 16 farms. The authors’ earlier studies showed that L. destructor was the most important allergen causing both upper and lower airway symptoms among farmers (68-69).

Surprisingly however, sensitisation to Storage mites in Swedish bakers was rare (70). In Russia, Storage mites play a significant role in sensitisation of the population. In a group of patients with allergic disease and sensitisation to Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, 80% were sensitised to Dermatophagoides farinae, 55% to Euroglyphus maynei, 45% to Acarus siro and 35% to Lepidoglyphus destructor (71).

In a randomly selected urban group in Reykjavik, Iceland, tested for skin reactivity, 6.3% showed IgE-mediated allergy to L. destructor. These were often polysensitised atopics with a high prevalence of clinical symptoms associated with exposure to hay (72).

Storage mite sensitisation has been reported to be relevant in Turkey (73) and among the urban population of Croatia, where the prevalence of subjects with positive skin tests was 35.8% for T. putrescentiae, 26.8% for L. destructor (26.8%), and 22. 4% for D. pteronyssinus and D. farinae. The prevalence of serumspecific IgE for for T. putrescentiae was 22.4%, and 14.9% for L. destructor (74). In a study of the prevalence of domestic mites in Kutahya (Turkey), L. destructor was found in 1.72% of homes (75).

L. destructor was reported to be a significant allergen in South America and surrounds, including Cuba (76). In a study, by means of skin tests, of the prevalence of sensitisation to L. destructor in 297 asthmatic adults and children living in 7 cities of 5 Latin American countries, sensitisation to L. destructor varied from 30% in Mexico City to 76.2% in Sao Paulo (77). A study of inhaled allergens in 80 Brazilian children aged 6 to 16 years reported on sensitisation with skin tests with Alternaria alternata, Cat, Dog, Lolium perenne, grasses and the following domestic mites: Blomia tropicalis, Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, Dermatophagoides farinae, Lepidoglyphus destructor, Chortoglyphus arcutus and Aleuroglyphus ovatus. The results were positive tests in 15%, 11%, 11%, 6%, 7%, 95%, 92%, 88%, 76%, 75% and 71%, respectively (78).

In a study in the city of Juiz de Fora, Brazil, Euroglyphus maynei and Tyrophagus putrescentiae were some of the main species found, and to a lesser degree, Lepidoglyphus destructor (79). In 100 children with a history of mild and moderate asthma living in Mexico City, skin tests demonstrated that Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus was positive in 96, Dermatophagoides farinae in 80, Euroglyphus maynei in 41, Chortoglyphus in 22, Blomia tropicalis in 17, Tyrophagus putrescentiae in 12, Glycyphagus in 12, Acarus siro in 7, Lepidoglyphus destructor in 7 and Gophieria in 7 (80).

In 77 subjects in Caragena, Columbia, with clinical symptoms of asthma and/or allergic rhinitis and a positive skin prick test to Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus and/or D. farinae, skin tests were positive to L. destructor in 59.7% (81). Dust samples collected from the pillows and mattresses of 56 asthmatics in Santa Fe, Argentina, showed that 46 had positive skin test to D. pteronyssinus, 43 to D. farinae, 27 to A. ovatus, 38 to B. tropicalis, and 27 to C. arcuatus; 38 of 54 individuals had IgE antibodies to E. maynei, and 22 of 54 to L. destructor (82).

In Valdivia, Chile, of 100 consecutive paediatric asthmas patients evaluated, 80 were confirmed to have positive skin test to at least 1 mite species. All patients with skin reactivity for mites were positive to D. pteronyssinus, 99% to D. farinae, 92% to E. maynei, 80% to L. destructor, 73% to T. putrescientae, 72% to B. tropicalis, 70% to A. siro and 68% to C. arcuatus. All of the patients with severe persistent asthma had skin reactivity to mites, as did 85% in the moderate group, and 73% in the mild group. Ninety-five percent of patients with asthma and allergic rhinitis were shown to have positive skin test to mites, as were 92% of patients with asthma and eczema and 100% of patients with asthma, allergic rhinitis and eczema (83).

In sensitisation of Wisconsin dairy farmers in the US, L. destructor was the most frequently found Storage mite culprit, followed by Tyrophagus putrescentiae and Glycyphagus domesticus (84). Six hundred serum samples randomly selected from a 1- day submission of approximately 3,000 samples by a southwestern Ohio population to a clinical diagnostic laboratory were screened for IgE antibodies to allergens of L. destructor and A. siro. Thirty-two (5.3%) of the 600 serum samples screened had IgE antibodies to allergens from at least 1 of the 2 mite species; 14 (2.3%) and 20 (3.3%) had serum IgE antibodies to proteins of the mites A. siro and L. destructor, respectively (85).

L. destructor also occurs in the arid countries of the Middle East. House dust mites collected from 8 different areas in greater Cairo showed that 9 species of mites could be recovered from indoors, including Tyrophagous putrescentiae, Acarus siro, and Lepidoglyphus destructor (86).

In Brunei, examination of dust from sleeping areas showed that Storage mites, especially Glycyphagid species, were predominant in house dust. On skin tests of 60 asthmatics with 1% extracts of 6 mite species, Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus was found to provoke the greatest number of positive skin reactions (66.7%), but positive reactions for Glycyphagus domesticus (40%), and Lepidoglyphus destructor (45%) demonstrated that Storage mites are also significant allergens. The authors point out that the role of Storage mites in the causation of asthma in the tropics may have been underestimated (87). Occupational allergy due to hypersensitivity to cereal flours is relatively common among bakers and grain store workers (88). Storage mites can contaminate Wheat flour and could be an important cause of allergic symptoms due to inhalation.

Among 43 patients with sensitisation to Wheat flour, co-sensitisation to L. destructor was found in 30%. Of these, 23% did not have a relationship with any bakery or agricultural site (89). Other studies have reported similar or higher rates of sensitisation to Storage mites. For example, almost all of a group of bakers sensitised to flour were found to also be sensitised to the Storage mites Acarus siro, Lepidoglyphus destructor and Tyrophagus putrescentiae (6 of 7) (90). Grain workers may also be affected, developing immediate nasal and conjunctival symptoms and late-phase asthmatic reactions following the handling of stored grain (91). Occupational sensitisation may also occur in farmers not directly involved in the handling of grain. Specific bronchial provocation tests confirmed a diagnosis of occupational asthma in a poultry farmer sensitised to L. destructor (92).

Compiled by Dr Harris Steinman, harris@zingsolutions.com


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As in all diagnostic testing, the diagnosis is made by the physican based on both test results and the patient history.