Atopy and prostate cancer: Is there a link between circulating levels of IgE and PSA in humans?

Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2017 Dec;66(12):1557-1562. doi: 10.1007/s00262-017-2048-1. Epub 2017 Aug 9.


Background: Atopy has been investigated as a potential risk factor for prostate cancer. IgE antibodies may be major players in protective responses against tumours, through engendering antigen presentation and enhancing adaptive immune responses targeted towards a specific allergen, but potentially also against tumour-associated antigens such as prostate-specific antigen (PSA). We therefore cross-sectionally investigated associations between circulating levels of PSA and IgE in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006.

Methods: We focused on all men aged 40+ years with measurements for PSA and IgE, and no previous diagnosis of prostate cancer (n = 1312). We estimated the association between total and specific IgE concentration and levels of PSA with logistic regression models, adjusted for age, ethnicity/race, education, smoking status, body mass index (BMI), physical activity status, and history of asthma.

Results: Both total IgE and the sum of specific IgE were inversely associated with the risk of having PSA levels ≥10 ng/mL, though most findings were not statistically significant. The odds ratios for the second and third tertile of total IgE as compared to the first were 0.21 (95% CI 0.06-0.72) and 0.42 (0.08-2.31). The odds ratio for sum of abnormal specific IgE measurements was 0.77 (0.44-1.34).

Conclusion: Despite statistical insignificance, the observed trend warrants further research given the increasing evidence of the role of atopy and IgE antibodies in protective responses against tumours. A lifecourse approach of measuring IgE, specific subtypes, and other markers of the humoral immune system (i.e. IgG) could shed more light on its potential anti-cancer characteristics.

Keywords: Atopy; IgE; PSA; Prostate cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Neoplasm / blood*
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / immunology
  • GPI-Linked Proteins / blood
  • GPI-Linked Proteins / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood*
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Proteins / blood*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / immunology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / blood*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / immunology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • GPI-Linked Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • PSCA protein, human
  • Immunoglobulin E