Background The availability of recombinant allergens and recent advances in biochip technology led to the development of a novel test system for the detection of allergen-specific IgE.
Objective To test the performance of this allergen microarray in a serological analytical study.
Methods Standard allergens contained in grass pollen (Phl p 1, Phl p 2, Phl p 5 and Phl p 6) and tree pollen (Bet v 1 and Bet v 2) were used as a model system. The detection of allergen-specific serum IgE using microarrays was compared with standard test systems: CAP/RAST and an in-house ELISA. In order to test the analytical sensitivity of the assays, geometric dilutions of a serum pool containing high levels of pollen-specific IgE from allergic individuals were tested in each system. To assess the analytical specificity, the sera of 51 patients with presumptive allergic symptoms were collected before diagnosis. Thereafter, the results for grass/tree-pollen-specific IgE were compared.
Results The microarray has a good dynamic range similar to the CAP/RAST system. Microarray and ELISA showed comparable analytical sensitivity exceeding the CAP/RAST system. With respect to the analytical specificity, no significant cross-reactivity of the allergens was observed. For two of the allergens tested, weak positive signals were detected in the microarray test system, whereas they were not detectable by CAP/RAST.
Conclusion A good correlation of presently used methods to detect serum IgE and the novel microarray test system was observed. As a next step, a careful validation of this method for a multitude of allergens and a thorough clinical evaluation has to be provided.
Microarray testing of allergen-specific IgE can be presumed to be the method of choice for a prospective component-resolved diagnosis of Type I allergy, and the basis for the design and monitoring of a patient-tailored specific immunotherapy in the future.