Author: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer

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Last updated on: 23.04.2021

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2-methoxy-6-pentyl-1,4-benzoquinone; CAS No: 151121-94-3

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Primin, a benzoquinone derivative that occurs mainly in the glandular hair secretion of Primula obonica(cup primrose or poison primrose), which is often kept as a potted plant in households. The allergen content of the individual plant is highly dependent on the season, light, weather and other growing conditions. The breeding of completely primin-free varieties has not yet been successful.

General information
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Primin is one of the strongest known allergens (Bongiorni L et al. 2015). It was therefore previously also frequently used in humans as a model substance for the study of allergic reactions. The benzoquinone structure indicates a distinct sensitizing potency, which is modified by the length, position and configuration of the aliphatic side chain. In principle, sensitization is also possible aerogenically.

In a larger (Italian) collective of patients with potential contact sensitization (n=24,000), Bongiorni L et al. (2015) demonstrated primin synsensitization of 1.9%, with women being more frequently sensitized (2.6%) than men (0.5%). In certain areas of Italy (Pordonne), even higher rates of sebisbilization (up to 6%) have been detected.

Cross-reactions with structurally similar quinones occurring in other plants or wood species, e.g. Dalbergia species, teak (Tectona grandis) or Pao ferro (Macherium skleroxylon) are possible but rarely observed.

Clinical picture
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The medically and cosmetically used Primula species (Primula veris, Primula elatior and Primula vulgaris - see below cowslip) contain only small amounts of Primin.

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  1. Bongiorni L et al (2015) Primin sensitization in north-eastern Italy: a temporal trend from 1996 to 2012. contact dermatitis 73:108-112.
  2. Hervella-Garcés M et al (2016) en representación del Grupo Español de Investigación en Dermatitis de Contacto y Alergia Cutánea (GEIDAC).the Spanish standard patch test series: 2016 update by the Spanish Contact Dermatitis and Skin Allergy Research Group (GEIDAC). Actas Dermosifiliogr 107:559-566.
  3. Zachariae C et al (2007) Primin in the European standard patch test series for 20 years. Contact dermatitis 56:344-346


Last updated on: 23.04.2021