Serum IgE measurement and detection of food allergy in pediatric patients with eosinophilic esophagitis

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2010 Jun;104(6):496-502. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2010.03.018.


Background: Although associated allergies are common and the mechanism may include long-term exposure to allergens, measurement of serum specific IgE levels has not been studied in pediatric eosinophilic esophagitis (EE).

Objective: To compare the results of serum IgE testing, patch testing, and epicutaneous skin testing to measure allergic sensitization in pediatric patients with EE.

Methods: In a cross-sectional study of 53 pediatric patients with EE, relevant history was obtained by questionnaire, and patch testing to foods was performed. Food and inhalant sensitivities were also assessed using skin prick testing and serum specific IgE measurement. Streptavidin CAP was used to measure specific IgE to cross-reactive carbohydrate determinants and Helicobacter pylori.

Results: The overall prevalence of food and inhalant sensitization was 80%, with higher total IgE levels in sensitized vs nonsensitized patients (median, 150 vs 13 IU/mL; P < .001). For foods, serum IgE measurement detected more positive results than did skin prick testing. Specific IgE to milk was most common (43%). Inhalants were implicated as frequently as were foods. In keeping with this, 32% of patients had a cluster of multiple sensitivities that included pollens, soy, grains, peanut, and tree nuts and had higher total IgE levels (P = .001). Patch test results were interpreted as positive in 39% of patients (rye, wheat, and soy were the most common).

Conclusions: Most, but not all, patients with EE are highly atopic individuals with frequent allergic sensitivities. Thus, serum IgE measurement of low-titer IgE antibody may be useful in identifying relevant food sensitivities and in distinguishing subgroups of patients with EE, making a more directed approach to food avoidance possible.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Carbohydrates / immunology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross Reactions
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Eosinophilia / immunology*
  • Esophagitis / immunology*
  • Female
  • Food Hypersensitivity / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood*
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Skin Tests


  • Carbohydrates
  • Immunoglobulin E