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High prevalence of sensitization to cat allergen among Japanese children with asthma, living without cats


Ichikawa Asthma and Allergic Diseases Center, Box 225, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA.



Cat allergy is common among children with asthma. Many cat-allergic patients in Japan and elsewhere do not keep cats, but nonetheless become sensitized through environmental exposure to cat allergen.


To assess the frequency of cat allergy and cat-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) and immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody responses in young Japanese patients with asthma in relation to self-reported cat exposure and Fel d 1 levels in dust samples.


Cat dander-specific IgE antibody was measured in sera from asthma patients using the CAP system. IgE and IgG antibody to Fel d 1 was measured by antigen binding radioimmunoassay and by chimeric enzyme immunoassay. Fel d 1 levels in dust samples from a subset of patients' homes were measured by monoclonal antibody-based enzyme immunoassay.


Cat-specific IgE (CAP class≥2) was found in sera from 70% of 44 patients who kept cats and 34% of 394 patients who had never kept cats. The prevalence of sensitization increased progressively to age 6 years (40%: positive), and then increased gradually to age 16 years (approximately 60%: positive) in patients who had never kept cats. There was an excellent correlation between cat CAP values and IgE levels to Fel d 1. The absolute amount of IgE antibody to Fel d 1 ranged from 0.01 to 15.6% of total IgE. Most patients who did not keep cats were exposed to Fel d 1 levels ranging from 0.07–8 μg/g dust.


Sensitization to cat allergen is common among young asthmatic patients in Japan, even among patients who do not keep cats. Use of CAP and the chimeric enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay allows accurate diagnosis of cat allergy and quantification of specific IgE antibody levels.