Background: Helminthic infections and allergic disease are highly prevalent in many areas of the world. It is known that IgE antibodies are involved in the pathogenesis of both helminthiasis and atopy. However, the consequences of the presence of helminthic infections in atopic patients are still not completely understood.
Methods: Subjects infected by Schistosoma mansoni with more than 200 eggs/g of feces (n = 42) and uninfected subjects (n = 133) were selected from an endemic area of schistosomiasis. The history of allergy and results of the immediate hypersensitivity prick tests with inhalant allergen extracts were registered. Total IgE and IgE specific to S. mansoni and aeroallergens were measured in serum by ELISA.
Results: The proportion of individuals with a positive skin test to allergens was higher in the uninfected group (24.3%) than in the group with more than 200 eggs/g of feces (4.8%). The odds of atopy (defined as a positive test for at least one of the antigens) were 5 times higher (odds ratio = 7.0; 95% confidence interval = 1.6-31.1%; p = 0.01) in the uninfected group, after taking into account the potential influence of gender and age. While there was a tendency for higher total and S. mansoni-specific IgE levels in infected patients, an opposite trend, that is higher aeroallergen-specific IgE, was observed in uninfected subjects.
Conclusions: There was a strong and statistically significant inverse association between the immediate skin test response to common aeroallergens and infection by S. mansoni. The results indicate that immediate hypersensitivity reactions may be suppressed in S. mansoni-infected individuals.
Copyright 2000 S. Karger AG, Basel.