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Cockroach allergy has been recognized as an important cause of asthma. Cockroach asthma has been described as a more severe disease, associated with perennial symptoms and high levels of total IgE. Cockroaches produce several allergens that induce sensitization, and exposure to high levels of cockroach allergens in the home is a major risk factor for symptoms in sensitized individuals. Previously identified allergens from Blattella germanica and Periplaneta americana, the most important domiciliary species, include Bla g 2 (inactive aspartic protease), Bla g 4 (calycin), Bla g 5 (glutathione-S-transferase), Bla g 6 (troponin), the Group 1 cross-reactive allergens Bla g 1 and Per a 1, Per a 3 (arylphorin), and Per a 7 (tropomyosin). Strategies for decreasing environmental exposure to cockroach have been recently investigated. The results suggest that a sustained decrease in cockroach allergen levels is difficult to accomplish, even after successful extermination of cockroach populations. Cockroach allergens have been cloned and produced as recombinant proteins in high-level expression vectors. The use of recombinant cockroach allergens should allow mechanisms of cockroach-induced asthma to be investigated and may lead to the development of new approaches to asthma treatment in the future.

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