Latin name: Acacia longifolia
Source material: Pollen
Common names: Acacia tree, Wattle, Port Jackson, White sallow, Sydney golden
A tree species producing large amounts of pollen, which often induces hayfever, asthma and conjunctivitis in sensitised individuals.
Acacias are a characteristic feature of dry regions in India and the African savannah, where they are called umbrella trees because of their shape.
These trees are native to Australia, Africa and North and South America. They have been introduced in Portugal, Spain, France and Italy. A. melanoxylon is grown in large plantations in Australia, East and South Africa, and Brazil, where it is harvested for use in tanning leather.
Acacia flowers in early spring.
Acacia is a large genus, including more than 1 000 species, many with thorns and spines. The trees are small, evergreen and fast-growing. They are planted for ornament but also for stabilising dunes and eroded slopes.
Acacia gum (gum Arabic/Senegal gum/Sudan gum) (f297) is derived from this tree and may result in food allergy reactions. (1, 2) Acacia gum is the odourless, colourless, tasteless dried exudate from the stem of the acacia tree.
Acacia bark and wood are rich sources of oils and terpenes and are considered a source for occupational allergens, especially in the tanning industry. Acacia oil is used in the printing industry.
To date no allergens have been characterised.
Cross-reactivity between acacia tree and rye grass pollen allergens has been described. (3) Cross-reactivity between members of the Fabaceae (legume family) may be expected. (4)
Date pollen has been shown to cross-react with antigens from Artemisia, cultivated rye (Secale cereale), Timothy grass (Phleum pratense), Sydney golden wattle (Acacia longifolia) and Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) pollen. (5)
a. IgE mediated reactions
Hayfever and asthma occur through exposure to pollen. (3, 6, 7, 8, 9) Rhinitis and asthma have been described in wood workers exposed to acacia wood. (10)
This study reviewed perennial and seasonal aeroallergen trends in the Middle East, and their effect on military personnel serving in the area; and reports that most countries have significant grass and weed pollen seasons during April to May and September to October, respectively. Indigenous trees such as date palm, acacia, and mesquite have specific pollen seasons from March to May. Mould allergens were perennial with seasonal peaks, whereas house dust mite was common in humid coastal regions. It concluded that seasonal and perennial allergens observed in the United States are also found in the Middle East. (11) In an earlier study of 327 adult patients with disease of suspected allergic origin who attended a hospital based in the United Arab Emirates, skin-prick testing showed that of 244 patients (74.6%) with positive results, acacia was positive in 25.6%. (12) In a study of aeroallergens in sandstorm dust investigated in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the most abundant aeroallergens were (among others) acacia, Alternaria, Aspergillus and Bermuda grass. (13) In a study in Saudi Arabia, of 1 159 patients tested for sensitisation to inhalants, acacia was positive in 29%. (7)
In a Malaysian study of asthmatic patients with and without rhinitis, 7.9% were skin-prick test positive to Acacia spp. (14) In an earlier study in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, of 200 patients with asthma, 21.5% were sensitised to acacia and 7.5% to Melaleuca pollen. Pollen collection demonstrated that grass and acacia pollen grains were the two most commonly found pollens. (15) In Montpellier, southern France, acacia resulted in positive skin-prick tests, though the pollen was almost absent from pollen counts. (8)
Studies have demonstrated sensitisation to other acacia species, including to Cootamundra wattle (A. baileyana) along the Adriatic coast; (16) A. auriculiformis in West Bengal, India; (17) and in Thailand, where pollen from this tree was shown to result in vernal keratoconjunctivitis. (18) An earlier study reported that of 100 Thai individuals with allergic rhinitis, 19% were skin-prick positive for Acacia. (6)
In 107 patients with allergic rhinitis and/or asthma in Jakarta, Indonesia, 12.15% were shown to be sensitised to A. auriculiformis. (19) Sensitisation to acacia species was also demonstrated in Otaru in Japan. (20) Occupational asthma has been reported due to acacia species, (10) and specifically to Blackwood (A. Melanoxylon). (21) A. Melanoxylon was also reported to cause occupational airborne contact dermatitis. (22) Pollen from Sydney golden (Mimosa tree) (A. floribunda) was reported to be an occupational allergen in florists. (23)
An evaluation of sensitisation to aeroallergens in Mashhad City, Iran, was evaluated by skin-prick tests performed with 27 common regional aeroallergens in 311 patients with allergic rhinitis. The overall rate of sensitisation to any allergen was 81%. 76% of patients were poly-sensitised, and weed and grass were the most prevalent allergens (77% and 62% respectively). Salsola Kali and mould were the most and the least prevalent individual allergens (72.5% and 6.5% respectively). Acacia tree pollen was responsible for sensitisation in 29.3% of subjects. (24)
In a Rwandan study of patients with vernal keratoconjunctivitis, of 3 041 children studied, 11.9% were skin-prick test-positive for acacia, and 20.3% on serum-specific IgE testing. (25)
Oriental plane trees are an important source of airborne allergens in the cities of southwest Asia and southeast Europe. A study conducted in Teheran, Iran, aimed to identify relevant allergens of P. orientalis pollen and to ascertain whether P. orientalis allergens have cross-reactivity with related plane trees. It found the frequency of sensitisation to acacia to be 13 of 19 patients, and 16 of 19 patients showed significantly high levels of IgE to P. orientalis extract. (26)
In a study of pollen allergy in Taiwan, patients with clinically diagnosed allergic rhinitis were enrolled and tested with 30 skin-prick allergens. A total of 419 patients were recruited, of which 313 (74.7%) had a positive skin test. Sensitisation to acacia was found in 4 patients. (27)
Compiled by Dr Harris Steinman, email@example.com
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- Sander I, Raulf-Heimsoth M, Wiemer K, Kespohl S, Brüning T, Merget R. Sensitization due to gum arabic (Acacia senegal): the cause of occupational allergic asthma or crossreaction to carbohydrates? Int Arch Allergy Immunol 2006;141(1):51-6.
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- Kwaasi AA, Harfi HA, Parhar RS, Saleh S, Collison KS, Panzani RC, Al-Sedairy ST, Al-Mohanna FA. Cross-reactivities between date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) polypeptides and foods implicated in the oral allergy syndrome. Allergy 2002;57(6):508-18.
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