Allergen-specific IgE as a biomarker of exposure plus sensitization in inner-city adolescents with asthma

E. C. Matsui, H. A. Sampson, H. T. Bahnson, R. S. Gruchalla, J. A. Pongracic, S. J. Teach, P. J. Gergen, G. R. Bloomberg, J. F. Chmiel, A. H. Liu, M. Kattan, C. A. Sorkness, S. F. Steinbach, R. E. Story, C. M. Visness

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Background: Relationships among allergen-specific IgE levels, allergen exposure and asthma severity are poorly understood since sensitization has previously been evaluated as a dichotomous, rather than continuous characteristic. Methods: Five hundred and forty-six inner-city adolescents enrolled in the Asthma Control Evaluation study underwent exhaled nitric oxide (FENO) measurement, lung function testing, and completion of a questionnaire. Allergen-specific IgE levels and blood eosinophils were quantified. Dust samples were collected from the participants' bedrooms for quantification of allergen concentrations. Participants were followed for 12 months and clinical outcomes were tracked. Results: Among sensitized participants, allergen-specific IgE levels were correlated with the corresponding settled dust allergen levels for cockroach, dust mite, and mouse (r = 0.38, 0.34, 0.19, respectively; P < 0.0001 for cockroach and dust mite and P = 0.03 for mouse), but not cat (r = -0.02, P = 0.71). Higher cockroach-, mite-, mouse-, and cat-specific IgE levels were associated with higher FE NO concentrations, poorer lung function, and higher blood eosinophils. Higher cat, dust mite, and mouse allergen-specific IgE levels were also associated with an increasing risk of exacerbations or hospitalization. Conclusions: Allergen-specific IgE levels were correlated with allergen exposure among sensitized participants, except for cat. Allergen-specific IgE levels were also associated with more severe asthma across a range of clinical and biologic markers. Adjusting for exposure did not provide additional predictive value, suggesting that higher allergen-specific IgE levels may be indicative of both higher exposure and a greater degree of sensitization, which in turn may result in greater asthma severity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1414-1422
Number of pages9
JournalAllergy: European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2010


  • Allergen exposure
  • Allergen-specific IgE
  • Biomarker
  • Childhood asthma
  • Inner-city Asthma Consortium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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