High levels of IgG4 antibodies to foods during infancy are associated with tolerance to corresponding foods later in life

Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2009 Feb;20(1):35-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3038.2008.00738.x. Epub 2008 Mar 12.


Children with eczema and sensitization to foods are recommended skin care and, if food allergy is proven by challenge, an elimination diet. For most children the diet period is transient, but the process behind tolerance development and the influence of decreased allergen exposure is not fully known. The aim of the study was to investigate the effect of elimination diet on serum and salivary antibodies and to identify immunological parameters related to the ability to tolerate foods. Eighty-nine children, below 2 yr of age, with eczema and suspected food allergy were included. Recommended treatment was skin care to all children, and 60 children had a period of elimination diet. At 4(1/2) yr of age, the children were divided into two groups, based on if they had been able to introduce the eliminated foods, or not. Serum and salivary antibodies were analyzed with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and UniCAP before and after a 6-wk treatment period and at 4(1/2) yr of age. Children sensitized to egg and/or milk that could eat and drink the offending foods at 4(1/2) yr of age, had higher levels of Immunoglobulin G(4) antibodies to ovalbumin and beta-lactoglobulin and also higher IgG(4)/Immunoglobulin E ratios on inclusion in the study, than those who had to eliminate egg and/or milk from their diet, beyond 4(1/2) yr of age. The highest IgG(4)/IgE ratios were found in children with circulating IgE antibodies to egg and/or milk but negative skin prick test on inclusion. The 6-wk treatment period did not significantly affect the levels of serum and salivary antibodies. In conclusion, eczematous, food sensitized infants with high levels of IgG(4) and high ratios of IgG(4)/IgE antibodies to food allergens are more likely to consume these foods at 4(1/2) yr than infants with low levels and ratios.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet / adverse effects
  • Eczema / immunology*
  • Eczema / therapy
  • Egg Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Egg Hypersensitivity / therapy
  • Eggs / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin A / blood
  • Immunoglobulin A / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology*
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology*
  • Infant
  • Lactoglobulins / immunology
  • Milk / immunology
  • Milk Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Milk Hypersensitivity / therapy
  • Ovalbumin / immunology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Saliva / immunology
  • Skin Tests


  • Allergens
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Lactoglobulins
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Ovalbumin