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Serum immunoglobulin E, IgA, and IgG antibodies to different cow's milk proteins in children with cow's milk allergy: Association with prognosis and clinical manifestations

Authors


Edit Hidvegi, MD, First Department of Pediatrics, Semmelweis University, Bókay János u. 53, Budapest, Hungary, H-1083
Tel.: +36-1-3343186
Fax: +36-1-3138212
E-mail: hedit@gyer1.sote.hu

Abstract

Diverse pathogenic mechanisms elicit different clinical manifestations in cow's milk allergy (CMA). Our aim was to determine the concentration of serum immunoglobulin levels to different cow's milk proteins in patients with CMA and to determine how these values were related to clinical symptoms and prognosis. Fifty children (mean age 10.9 months, range: 1–34 months) with previously confirmed CMA were enrolled in this study. All had various clinical manifestations of CMA, including gastrointestinal, skin, and respiratory symptoms. At the diagnosis of CMA the serum total and the milk-specific immunoglobulin (Ig)E values were measured by enzyme immunoassay and fluoroimmunoassay, respectively, while the relative levels of serum IgA and IgG antibodies against different cow's milk proteins were determined by a sensitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The results were compared to those of 30 non-atopic age-matched control children. On average, after 9.2 months (range 2–31 months) on a milk-free diet, a repeated challenge was performed in 38 children. At the re-challenge, 12 patients had clinical symptoms while the remaining 26 children were symptom-free. The IgG antibody level to bovine serum albumin (BSA) was significantly lower in the patients than in the controls (median: 0.36 vs. 2.94, p < 0.01). There was a close correlation among all individual IgA and IgG antibodies to different cow's milk proteins. The anti-α-casein IgG level (of 2.10) in children with a positive reaction at the re-challenge was significantly higher than in those with a negative reaction (0.89) (p < 0.05). The total IgE serum concentration was also significantly higher in those who had symptoms at the re-challenge compared to those who did not have any reaction at this time (22.9 vs. 6.8 kU/l, geometric mean, p < 0.02). There was no association between the clinical manifestations and the IgG and IgA antibody levels to the cow's milk proteins studied, except for the anti-BSA IgA level, which was higher in patients with gastrointestinal symptoms. The serum total IgE and anti-α-casein IgG levels could have prognostic values; their increase at the beginning of the disease may indicate the development of tolerance to cow's milk only at a later age and after a longer duration of CMA. However, as there is considerable overlap among the values observed in different groups of patients, there is a limitation of these tests for predicting the prognosis.

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