Human IgE antibody serology: a primer for the practicing North American allergist/immunologist

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010 Jul;126(1):33-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2010.03.014. Epub 2010 May 7.


The allergist/immunologist judiciously diagnoses allergic disease by using confirmatory IgE antibody data from in vivo and in vitro assays after the collection of a clinical history. After an overview of historical events, clinically available allergen-specific IgE assays from Phadia, Siemens, and Hycor are contrasted by their design and performance characteristics. The assays share comparable working ranges, analytical sensitivities, and excellent precision, reproducibility, and linearity to a performance standard of <15% coefficients of variation. However, multiple interlaboratory studies have confirmed that the 3 IgE antibody assays either detect different populations of IgE antibody or do not measure the same antibodies with comparable efficiencies. The clinical consequence is that IgE antibody results from the 3 assays are not interchangeable or equivalent. Data generated with one assay cannot be directly extrapolated to published predictive outcomes based on IgE antibody levels from a different assay. The transition from allergen extract-based to allergenic components reagents is discussed, emphasizing the chip-based microarray's strength in identifying IgE antibody cross-reactivity. US Food and Drug Administration-cleared point-of-care IgE antibody lateral flow cassettes are overviewed. Finally, IgE antibody concentration, affinity, clonality (epitope specificity), and specific activity (specific/total IgE ratio) are examined as humoral immune response parameters measured by serologic assays that affect effector cell degranulation and ultimately allergic disease expression.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Antibodies, Anti-Idiotypic / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Humoral
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood*
  • Point-of-Care Systems
  • Radioallergosorbent Test


  • Allergens
  • Antibodies, Anti-Idiotypic
  • anti-IgE antibodies
  • Immunoglobulin E