What is the role of fungi aeroallergens in allergic diseases?

Updated: Jul 07, 2019
  • Author: Bhumika Patel, MD; Chief Editor: Michael A Kaliner, MD  more...
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Fungi are widely distributed throughout the world. They grow mycelium and reproduce asexually by budding and sexually through spores. These spores become airborne and have the potential to sensitize and cause symptoms in susceptible individuals. [31] The optimal conditions for fungal growth vary greatly among different species, but all require oxygen, a carbohydrate source, and water. Optimal temperatures vary but are usually between 18°C (64.4°F) and 32°C (89.6°F). Fungal growth may also be affected by climate change. [32]

Higher outdoor levels of fungi are associated with concomitant high levels in the indoor environment. Indeed, most of the fungi recovered from an indoor environment emanate from outside. However, certain species, such as Penicillium and Aspergillus, can be found in greater quantities inside buildings and homes. Another source of indoor fungi are the transport of outdoor spores on clothing and animal fur into the indoor environment. [33]

In children with allergies, 63% of their homes have increased fungal levels. [102] Sixty-six percent of asthma sufferers have sensitization to one or more fungi on skin-prick testing or serum IgE measurement. [101]

The threshold levels of allergens that are required to sensitize and exacerbate allergic symptoms have yet to be established. Culture methods are usually used to determine exposure, using spore counts or quantitation of colony-forming units. An indoor source of fungal growth is suggested if the indoor concentration of individual types of fungi are greater indoors than outdoors. [34]

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