WHY does the cat allergen Fel D1 cause an allergic reaction?

We know that the cat allergen which is the cat’s saliva and which is also secreted by the sebaceous glands is a protein which scientists have called Fel D1. Proteins are incredible small objects. They are smaller than viruses but bigger than molecules and atoms. We know how unpleasant an allergic reaction to the cat allergen can be for the 10% of people who are allergic to cats.

Why does the Fel D1 protein cause an allergic response?

Why does the Fel D1 protein cause an allergic response? Image: MikeB

On my careful research the current position is that we don’t understand the precise mechanism by which Fel D1 causes the allergic reaction. If you know better, please tell me. A 2013 study concluded:

“Fel d 1 can bind to the mannose receptor, but immune signaling is not initiated following engagement of this receptor. Thus, the mechanism by which this protein initiates an allergic response remains unclear (AUGUST 15 2013).”

In general terms the following explains how an allergic reaction is started:

An allergic response is initiated when an allergen, such as a protein, binds to specific receptors on the surface of immune cells called IgE antibodies. This binding triggers the release of inflammatory mediators, such as histamine, from the cells, leading to symptoms such as itching, swelling, and difficulty breathing. This is known as the “IgE-mediated” allergic response.”

I guess if we knew we would have found a better way of stopping the allergic reaction than the 47% success rate of Purina LIVECLEAR dry cat food which contains a key protein sourced from eggs that contains an anti Fel d 1 antibody.

I am afraid there is nothing more to say as the answer to the question is basically: “We don’t know specifically”.

Below are some articles on Fel D1.

Studies analysed the distribution of the Fel D1 antigen produced by the domestic cat which is deposited on the cat's skin and on their fur and is inside the skin and fur as well. Most of it comes from the sebaceous glands.

The distribution of Fel D1, the cat allergen (antigen) on and in a cat’s hair and skin

A lot has been written and published on the Internet about the allergen produced by the cat, Fel D1, which ...
American Wirehair

Are American Wirehair cats hypoallergenic?

American Wirehair. I think the photo was taken by Helmi Flick and the background changed later in Photoshop by someone ...
Woman licks her cat as she wants to behavior like a true cat mom

Is it okay to lick my cat?

Is the question relevant to our lives? People ask it nonetheless. But frankly it is almost irrelevant. However, exceedingly rarely ...
Young girl enjoys the company of the family cat

The kind of relationship you want to see between child and animal

The behaviour of the young girl in the video interacting with the family cat should be the parenting objective of ...
Allergens and allergies

Increase in human allergies inc. asthma – reason? – children allergic to cats – spread of cat/dog allergen – environment – lifestyle

A Guardian article online interests me because an allergy to cats affects around 10% of people (is this an underestimate?) ...
Sinusitis in humans caused by cats?

Can cats cause sinusitis in people who are NOT allergic to cats?

Google does not help me in answering the question in the title. I'll have to work it out. Although the ...
Immunotherapy drops

Desensitizing babies to the cat allergen?

This is a discussion no more. I am thinking aloud but I'd suggest that more should be done to remove ...
Cats and babies in harmony together

Is cat dander bad for babies?

Is cat dander bad for babies? My answer based on careful research is that it is probably or possibly good ...
Purina Live Clear

Cat lovers who are allergic to cats wait patiently for a true hypoallergenic cat

I had hoped to write that the wait might be over for cat lovers who seek a truly hypoallergenic cat ...
Passengers sensitive to the cat allergen can have symptoms on public transport

Passengers sensitive to the cat allergen can have symptoms on public transport

In an interesting, eye-opening, study conducted in Helsinki, Finland and published on October 9, 2008, scientists found that "Dog and ...
Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.
Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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