The role of immunoglobulin E in allergy and asthma

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2001 Oct 15;164(8 Pt 2):S1-5. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.164.supplement_1.2103024.


It has been nearly a century since the first suggestion that a soluble factor in plasma or serum might be responsible for the symptoms of allergic disease and asthma, and more than 30 yr since immunoglobulin E (IgE) was identified as the key molecule in mediating what are now described as type 1 hypersensitivity reactions (allergic asthma, allergic rhinitis, food allergy, atopic dermatitis, some forms of drug allergy, and insect sting allergy). Since that time, many of the details of the inflammatory cascade underlying allergy and asthma have been elucidated, and IgE is now known to play a key upstream role. The goals of this report are to review the cellular and molecular events set in motion by IgE and to examine the evidence for its participation in both the immediate allergic response and the late-phase or chronic inflammatory response in the skin and lungs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology*


  • Immunoglobulin E