Thirty-eight of forty patients, allergic to the pollen of dwarf and giant ragweed, were found to be allergic also to the pollen of botanically related species. There was definite variation in the degree of reactivity to the various pollens in different patients. One additional patient reacted to dwarf ragweed but not to giant ragweed or to four other composites.
Antibody neutralization studies in six cases indicated that (a) in four cases dwarf ragweed could have been the only sensitizing allergen. (b) In one case either dwarf or giant ragweed could have been the only sensitizing allergen. (c) In one case cosmos plus either of the ragweeds or some undetermined pollen could have been the sensitizing allergen, (d) In none of the six cases studied could cosmos, sunflower, goldenrod, or dandelion have been the only sensitizing allergens.
The evidence presented supports the following concepts: (1) Hypersensitiveness of this type develops as the result of allergenic stimulation. (2) The pollens of the ragweeds and their botanic relatives contain, in addition to species-specific allergens, multiple common allergenic determinants which vary in their distribution among related species. (3) A person exposed simultaneously to a group of allergens may become sensitized to certain members of the group and not to others, while another person, exposed to the same group of allergens, may become sensitized to different members of the group.