Allergen-specific IgE as a biomarker of exposure plus sensitization in inner-city adolescents with asthma

Allergy. 2010 Nov;65(11):1414-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2010.02412.x.


Background: Relationships among allergen-specific IgE levels, allergen exposure and asthma severity are poorly understood since sensitization has previously been evaluated as a dichotomous, rather than continuous characteristic.

Methods: Five hundred and forty-six inner-city adolescents enrolled in the Asthma Control Evaluation study underwent exhaled nitric oxide (FE(NO)) measurement, lung function testing, and completion of a questionnaire. Allergen-specific IgE levels and blood eosinophils were quantified. Dust samples were collected from the participants' bedrooms for quantification of allergen concentrations. Participants were followed for 12 months and clinical outcomes were tracked.

Results: Among sensitized participants, allergen-specific IgE levels were correlated with the corresponding settled dust allergen levels for cockroach, dust mite, and mouse (r = 0.38, 0.34, 0.19, respectively; P < 0.0001 for cockroach and dust mite and P = 0.03 for mouse), but not cat (r = -0.02, P = 0.71). Higher cockroach-, mite-, mouse-, and cat-specific IgE levels were associated with higher FE(NO) concentrations, poorer lung function, and higher blood eosinophils. Higher cat, dust mite, and mouse allergen-specific IgE levels were also associated with an increasing risk of exacerbations or hospitalization.

Conclusions: Allergen-specific IgE levels were correlated with allergen exposure among sensitized participants, except for cat. Allergen-specific IgE levels were also associated with more severe asthma across a range of clinical and biologic markers. Adjusting for exposure did not provide additional predictive value, suggesting that higher allergen-specific IgE levels may be indicative of both higher exposure and a greater degree of sensitization, which in turn may result in greater asthma severity.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Allergens / immunology
  • Animals
  • Asthma / blood*
  • Asthma / immunology
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Child
  • Exhalation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / blood
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood*
  • Male
  • Nitric Oxide / analysis
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Urban Population
  • Young Adult


  • Allergens
  • Biomarkers
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Immunoglobulin E