Olive pollen is one of the most important causes of seasonal respiratory allergy in Mediterranean countries, where this tree is intensely cultivated. Among the high number of protein allergens detected in this pollen, 8 – Ole e 1 to Ole e 8 – have been isolated and characterized. Ole e 1 is the most frequent sensitizing agent, affecting more than 70% of the patients suffering of olive pollinosis, although others, such as Ole e 4 and Ole e 7, have also been shown to be major allergens. In this context, the prevalence of many olive pollen allergens seems to be dependent on the geographical area where the sensitized patients live. Some of the olive allergens have been revealed as members of known protein families: profilin (Ole e 2), Ca2+-binding proteins (Ole e 3 and Ole e 8), superoxide dismutase (Ole e 5) and lipid transfer protein (Ole e 7). No biological function has been demonstrated for Ole e 1, whereas Ole e 4 and Ole e 6 are new proteins without homology to known sequences from databases. cDNAs encoding for Ole e 1, Ole e 3 and Ole e 8 have been overproduced in heterologous systems. The recombinant products were correctly folded and exhibited the functional activities of the natural allergens. In addition to the Oleaceae family, other species, such as Gramineae or Betulaceae, contain pollen allergens structurally or immunologically related to those of the olive tree. This fact allows to detect and evaluate antigenic cross-reactivities involving olive allergens. The aim of this research is the development of new diagnostic tools for olive pollinosis and new approaches to improve the classical immunotherapy.

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