The cytokine receptor CD30 is an activation marker of T cells which preferentially associates with the production of the TH2 cytokine IL-4. Therefore, it may potentially be a candidate marker for atopic disorders and a target molecule for new therapeutic approaches.
To test the hypothesis that elevated levels of soluble CD30 (sCD30) are significantly associated with atopic disorders after adjustment for other predictors of atopy.
The presence of elevated sCD30 (≥ 20 U/mL) in atopic disorders was evaluated in a nested case-control study. Cases (n = 60) were blood donors with specific IgE antibodies, total serum levels of IgE ≥ 100 kU/L and presence or history of allergic symptoms. Controls (n = 59) were blood donors without presence or history of allergic symptoms and serum levels of IgE < 50 kU/L. sCD30 was determined from serum samples by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Odds ratios (OR) and confidence intervals (CI) were calculated from logistic regression coefficients.
Mean sCD30 levels for cases were 75 U/mL ( sd 110 U/mL) as compared with 35 U/mL ( sd 59 U/mL) for controls. Serum levels of sCD30 were elevated in 65% of cases and 32% of controls (OR 3.9, 95% CI 1.8–8.4). The odds ratio for elevated sCD30 as a predictor of atopic disorders slightly decreased to 3.7 after controlling for smoking, age and gender. Blood eosinophilia which was a strong predictor of atopy (OR 11.7) was a weak confounder of the association between sCD30 levels and atopic disorders. Family history of allergy, another strong predictor of atopy (OR 8.6), did not confound the association.
The results are consistent with the hypothesis that CD30 is involved in the pathogenesis of atopic disorders independent of eosinophilia and family history of allergy.