Use of (1-3)-β-D-glucan concentrations in dust as a surrogate method for estimating specific fungal exposures

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Indoor exposure to fungi has been associated with respiratory symptoms, often attributed to their cell wall component, (1–3)-β-D-glucan. Performing (1–3)-β-D-glucan analysis is less time consuming and labor intensive than cultivation or microscopic counting of fungal spores. This has prompted many to use (1–3)-β-D-glucan as a surrogate for fungal exposure. The aim of this study was to examine which indoor fungal species are major contributors to the (1–3)-β-D-glucan concentration in field dust samples. We used the quantitative polymerase chain reaction (QPCR) method to analyze 36 indoor fungal species in 297 indoor dust samples. These samples were also simultaneously analyzed for (1–3)-β-D-glucan concentration using the endpoint chromogenic Limulus Amebocyte lysate assay. Linear regression analysis, followed by factor analysis and structural equation modeling, were utilized in order to identify fungal species that mostly contribute to the (1–3)-β-D-glucan concentration in field dust samples. The study revealed that Cladosporium and Aspergillus genera, as well as Epicoccum nigrum, Penicillium brevicompactum and Wallemia sebi were the most important contributors to the (1–3)-β-D-glucan content of these home dust samples. The species that contributed most to the (1–3)-β-D-glucan concentration were also the most prevalent in indoor environments. However, Alternaria alternata, a common fungal species in indoor dust, did not seem to be a significant source of (1–3)-β-D-glucan.

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