• asthma;
  • child;
  • IgE;
  • IgG;
  • IgG subclass;
  • Ovalbumin


Background Egg sensitization, particularly persistent sensitization, is a risk factor for later asthma. However, little is known about accompanying IgG and subclass responses and how they might relate to asthmatic outcome.

Objective To characterize hen's egg ovalbumin (OVA) IgG and subclass responses through the first 5 years of life in relation to duration of egg sensitization and later asthma.

Subjects and methods The subjects (n=46) formed part of a larger cohort, born to atopic parents, who had been evaluated prospectively for the development of asthma. Egg sensitization was classified as transient (positive egg skin prick test at 1 year only) or persistent (positive skin test for at least 2 years). Plasma OVA IgG, IgG1 and IgG4 concentrations at birth (cord), 6 months, 1 and 5 years of age were measured by ELISA.

Results The kinetics of OVA IgG and IgG1 responses, but not IgG4, differed between egg sensitized and non-egg sensitized (NES) children. Only persistently sensitized children had a rise in OVA IgG1 concentration through the first year of life, and at 1 year of age they had significantly higher OVA IgG and IgG1 than either transiently sensitized or NES children. High OVA IgG1 was associated with later asthma: at 1 year of age, OVA IgG1 greater than 14 500 U predicted asthma with a sensitivity 64% and specificity 74%.

Conclusion OVA IgG and subclass responses relate to the duration of egg sensitization. Measurement of OVA IgG1 concentration in infancy might offer a useful adjunct to identify those at an increased risk of asthma.