Corn is a major staple food, along with rice and wheat, in many parts of the world. There are several reports of hypersensitivity to maize pollen. However, cases of occupational allergic rhinitis induced by inhalation of maize pollen are very rare. We herein report the case of a 67-year-old male with occupational rhinitis caused by occupational exposure to maize pollen in a cornfield. He showed positive responses to maize pollen, as well as grass pollens, in skin prick tests. A high level of serum immunoglobulin E (IgE) specific to maize pollen extracts was detected by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Laboratory tests showed a high serum level of total IgE (724 kU/L) and a high level of IgE specific to maize pollen (8.32 kU/L) using the Immuno-CAP system. Occupational rhinitis was confirmed by a nasal provocation test with maize pollen extracts. IgE ELISA inhibition tests showed antibody cross-reactivity between maize pollen and grass pollen extracts. IgE immunoblotting using maize pollen extracts demonstrated a 27 kDa IgE-binding component. These findings suggest that maize pollen can induce IgE-mediated occupational rhinitis in exposed workers.
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