Background: IgE is a major determinant of allergic disease. Twin analysis of serum levels of IgE has been carried out previously in children and adults with heritability estimates of 30% to 70% on the basis of ANOVA.
Objective: This study included the analysis of serum IgE in a population of 126 twins, 27 monozygotic pairs and 36 dizygotic pairs, studied at birth (cord blood [CB] IgE) and consecutively at the age of 6 to 9 years of age (serum IgE).
Methods: IgE was determined by means of RIA. ANOVA, correlation analysis, and structural equation modeling by maximal likelihood analysis was used for genetic analysis.
Results: Structural equation modeling by maximal likelihood analysis showed the best-fitting model to be the AE model (A for additive genetic variance and E for environmental variance) both at birth and later in childhood. The estimated heritability was 0.92 (95% CI, 0.84-0.95) for CB IgE and 0.78 (95% CI, 0.60-0.87) for serum IgE. The correlation between CB IgE and serum IgE was 0.04.
Conclusions: The study demonstrated a higher genetic dependency of serum IgE than previously recognized. The low correlation between the IgE levels at birth and later in childhood suggested that different effector mechanisms may be operating at different ages.