2Associate Professor of immunology, Department of Immunobiochemistry, Immunology Research Center, Mashhad University of Medical Science and Health Services, Mashhad, Iran
Iran is the main producer of Saffron in the world and a great number of Khorasan (the largest province of Iran) are involved in growing this plant. Recently, saffron pollen has found great importance due to inducing allergic reactions. In this study, the prevalence and clinical symptoms of saffron pollen allergy and specific IgE level in saffron workers have been studied. For this purpose, 167 Saffron workers selected randomly from different regions of Khorasan Saffron growing areas were enrolled into the study.Clinical history, skin prick test results, total IgE and specific IgE were used as inclusion and exclusion criteria. Total IgE and specific IgE assessment carried out on 39 cases who had either positive skin prick test or positive clinical symptoms and 10 cases who had neither positive skin prick test nor clinical symptoms (non-allergic group). From 167 individuals, 21 cases had positive skin prick test to Saffron pollen extract and 11 cases had Saffron specific IgE in their sera (allergic group). Forty Saffron workers (24%) showed allergic symptoms in Saffron picking season and 19 individuals (11%) suffered from allergic symptoms in other seasons. Clinical symptoms were respectively sneezing, watery nose, itchy eyes, itchy nose and red eyes. Skin symptoms like urticaria and dry skin were reported rarely. Saffron allergic and non-allergic groups showed significant differences in birth month, allergy to three other pollen extracts and allergy history in their siblings. No significant difference was found between Saffron allergic and non–allergic groups in regard to gender, age, family size, the duration of allergen exposure and smoking. Therefore, Saffron pollen can cause allergic reactions occruing basically in eye, nose and upper respiratory system and according to the obtained results these allergic reactions occur through an IgE-dependent mechanism.