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Summary

The aim of this study was to examine the proposal that the magnitude of the response of the bronchi to an immediate allergic reaction depends not only on the degree of sensitization of the bronchi by allergen specific IgE antibody but also on the reactivity of the bronchi to the vasoactive mediators which are released during immediate allergic reactions. This was done by determining the bronchial reactivity to Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus and to histamine of both symptomatic and asymptomatic groups of atopic subjects who had comparable serum levels of D. pteronyssinus specific IgE. Positive bronchial responses to the D. pteronyssinus extract were recorded with both the symptomatic and asymptomatic subjects, the mean bronchial threshold dose of allergen being significantly higher in the asymptomatic than in the asthmatic patients. There was a highly significant correlation between the serum level of allergen specific IgE and the bronchial threshold dose of allergen extract and also between the bronchial threshold dose of allergen extract and of histamine in all groups of subjects. The ability to predict bronchial reactivity to the allergen from the serum level of allergen specific IgE within each group was significantly better if the bronchial reactivity to histamine was included in the correlation analysis. This supports the hypothesis that whether a particular subject who is producing specific IgE antibody will develop symptoms on the inhalation of that allergen depends not only on the amount of allergen which he inhales and on the degree of sensitization of his bronchi but also on the reactivity of his bronchi to the vasoactive mediators which are released by allergen–IgE interaction.