AllergoOncology: the role of IgE-mediated allergy in cancer

Allergy. 2008 Oct;63(10):1255-66. doi: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2008.01768.x. Epub 2008 Jul 26.


Epidemiological studies have suggested inverse associations between allergic diseases and malignancies. As a proof of concept for the capability of immunoglobulin E (IgE) to destruct tumor cells, several experimental strategies have evolved to specifically target this antibody class towards relevant tumor antigens. It could be demonstrated that IgE antibodies specific to overexpressed tumor antigens have been superior to any other immunoglobulin class with respect to antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) and phagocytosis (ADCP) reactions. In an alternative approach, IgE nonspecifically attached to tumor cells proved to be a powerful adjuvant establishing tumor-specific immune memory. Active Th2 immunity could also be achieved by applying an oral immunization regimen using mimotopes, i.e. epitope mimics of tumor antigens. The induced IgE antibodies could be cross-linked by live tumor cells leading to tumoricidic mediator release. Thus, IgE antibodies may not only act in natural tumor surveillance, but could possibly also be exploited for tumor control in active and passive immunotherapy settings. Thereby, eosinophils, mast cells and macrophages can be armed with the cytophilic IgE and become potent anti-tumor effectors, able to trace viable tumor cells in the tissues. It is strongly suggested that the evolving new field AllergoOncology will give new insights into the role of IgE-mediated allergy in malignancies, possibly opening new avenues for tumor therapy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basophils / immunology
  • Eosinophils / immunology
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Immunoglobulin E / physiology*
  • Immunoglobulin E / therapeutic use
  • Mast Cells / immunology
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy


  • Immunoglobulin E