Allergic Weeds Threatening Human Health in Korea

Minju Kim1   So Yeon Kim1   Geun Jung Jang 2   Yong Ho Lee3   Sun Hee Hong3   Songmun Kim 1,*   

1School of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, Kangwon National University, Chuncheon 24341, Korea
2Institute of Agriculture and Life Science, Kangwon National University, Chuncheon 24341, Korea
3School of Applied Science in Natural Resources & Environment, Hankyong National University, Ansung 17579, Korea


Many people in the world are suffering from various allergy-related diseases, such as allergic conjunctivitis, rhinitis, asthma, and anaphylaxis, caused by the pollen grains of weeds. More than thirty percent of the population in Korea is reported to have been suffering from pollen allergies. Despite their adverse effects on public health, little is known about allergic weeds and their distribution in Korea. The authors introduce the mechanism of action of allergies, the domestic weeds that cause allergies and their distribution in Korea, and the implications of the allergy-causing weeds. Most of allergies are caused by the pollen from the flower of weeds, e.g., Humulus, Rumex, Chenopodium, Kochia, Atriplex, Amaranthus, Plantago depressa, Ambrosia, Xanthium, Solidago, Erigenom, and Chrysanthemun plants, which are discussed in this review. Recently the increasing of the concentration of fine dust and pollen became a great cause of an allergic disease, just like the diagnostic yield of allergic coryza. The effects of weeds on people's health are expected to become an important research topic among members of the Korean society of weed science.

Figures & Tables

Fig. 1. An allergic reaction that occurs when pollens of weeds enter the human body. ① Allergens are delivered to T helper 2 (Th2) cells by dendritic cells (DCs) or directly stimulate B cells. ② Th2 cells secrete IL-4, 5, 6, 9, 10, and 13 to stimulate B cells or form Th2 complexes, and Th2 complexes also excessively secrete IL-4, 5, and 13 to stimulate B cells. ③ IgE secreted by the Th2 complex and stimulated B cells activates mast cells and induces degranulation of mast cells. IgE acts on the IgE high affinity receptor (FcεRI) on the surface of mast cells. When two or more FcεRIs are linked in a stable form by an allergen, Lyn kinase and Syk kinase are activated. Lyn kinase phosphorylates ITAM (immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motif) and acts on syk kinase or induces accumulation and degranulation of inflammatory substances in mast cells. In addition, Syk kinase also activates LAT, PKC, and PLCγ. to induce accumulation of inflammatory substances in mast cells and degranulation. ④ Inflammatory mediators accumulated in mast cells are secreted out of the cells through degranulation. ⑤ Th2, B cells, and mast cells are stimulated again by the secreted inflammatory mediators, causing a transient reaction and developing clinical symptoms