Total and allergen-specific IgE levels in serum reflect blood eosinophilia and fractional exhaled nitric oxide concentrations but not pulmonary functions in allergic asthmatic children sensitized to house dust mites


Giovanni A. Rossi, Pulmonary Division, G. Gaslini Institute, Largo G. Gaslini 5, 16147 Genoa, Italy
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Although elevated levels of serum immunoglobulin E (IgE) are considered the hallmark of atopic diseases, their clinical value in evaluating subjects with allergic disorders is under debate. To evaluate possible relationships between serum IgE levels and a variety of clinical parameters, 83 mild asthmatic children [10.98-year-old (2.95)], sensitized to house dust mites (HDM) Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (Dp) or D. farinae (Df), were enrolled. As compared with normal control reference values detected in our laboratory, children with allergic asthma had higher blood eosinophil counts (expressed both as percentage and as absolute number) and higher fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) levels but similar values in pulmonary function parameters. In the allergic asthmatic population, serum levels of total, Dp-specific or Df-specific IgE correlated positively with eosinophil counts (Rho ≥ 0.30, p < 0.01, each correlation) and FeNO levels (Rho ≥ 0.33, p < 0.01, each correlation) but not with pulmonary function parameters (p > 0.1, each correlation). Finally, significant correlations, although moderate, were found in the allergic asthmatic population between eosinophil counts and FeNO levels (Rho ≥ 0.42, p < 0.001, each correlation). Thus, in atopic children sensitized to HDM with mild intermittent asthma, IgE levels in blood appear to reflect systemic (blood eosinophils) and organ-specific (FeNO) markers of allergic inflammation but not pulmonary volumes or the degree of airflow limitation.