A new study has found there exists certain types of air pollutants in the atmosphere associated with the daily traffic that can trigger chemical changes in airborne allergens and boost their potency.
According to the researchers, the air pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, ground-level ozone and other gases, can instigate changes chemically in certain airborne allergens.
The findings of the study could help in properly explaining the phenomenon behind increase in the airborne allergies.
Allergies linked with airborne factors are forcing more and more people to sniffle, sneeze and wheeze during the allergy season.
Ulrich PAschl, researcher from Max Planck Institute in Germany, said, “Scientists have long suspected that air pollution and climate change are involved in the increasing prevalence of allergies worldwide. But understanding the underlying chemical processes behind this phenomenon has proven elusive.”
“The research work is in preliminary stage, but it does begin to suggest how chemical modifications in allergenic proteins are affecting allergenicity,” Posch said.
During the study, the researchers analysed how air pollutants related traffic could raise the strength of the allergens.
In laboratory tests and computer simulations, the researchers analysed the effects of various levels of nitrogen dioxide and ozone on the biggest birch pollen allergen, known as Bet v 1.
The researchers found that ozone, which is the main component of smog, oxidizes an amino acid known as tyrosine that helps form Bet v 1 proteins.
This change sets in motion a chain of chemical reactions involving reactive oxygen intermediates that can bind the proteins together, leading to the alteration of their structures as well as their potential biological effects.
The researchers noted that the cross-linked proteins can become more potent allergens with this occurrence.
They also discovered that nitrogen dioxide, which is a component of automobile exhaust, seems altering the binding and polarity capabilities of Bet v 1 allergenic proteins.
According to the study, this along with the effects of ozone likely enhances the immune response of the body to these particles, particularly in wet, humid and smoggy environments.
The findings of the study were presented at the 249th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).