Fungi and Atopy.

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DOI: 10.1007/s12016-019-08750-z


Atopy and fungi have a long associative history. Fungal spores were among the first substances to which humans were noted to be sensitized. Humans contact fungal spores in the outdoor, indoor, and occupational environments. As organisms, fungi have their own kingdom and are found in all environmental niches on earth. Currently, fungal exposure in the indoor environment especially related to wet housing conditions is of particular concern. Sensitization rates to fungi typically exceed 5% of the general public with higher rates among the atopic population. Alternaria is the best studied of the allergic fungi; however, cross sensitization to multiple fungi is well documented. Recent advances in understanding mechanisms of the innate immune system are beginning to explain why the fungal atopy relationship is unique and why fungal sensitivity seems to extend to many non-atopic individuals. Evidence has been accumulated that indicates fungal allergen exposure can be via intact spores as well as spore and mycelial fragments. Germinating spores produce a different and often increased allergen picture. Much evidence has been developed through animal studies that extends the mechanisms surrounding long-term low-level fungal exposure. However, it should be emphasized that the presence of fungi in the air does not necessarily equate with illness. Indeed, in the absence of an atopic individual and/or a significant immune response against fungi, there is little evidence suggesting pathology. Allergists frequently deal with patients who have concerns about indoor fungal exposure and respiratory disease in those patients with an allergic response.

Journal Title

Clinical reviews in allergy & immunology





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MeSH Keywords

Allergens; Animals; Antigens, Fungal; Disease Susceptibility; Environmental Exposure; Fungi; Host-Pathogen Interactions; Humans; Hypersensitivity, Immediate


Aerobiology; Atopy; Fungal allergy; Fungi; Indoor air quality; Indoor allergens; Respiratory disease

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