Background High levels of allergen-specific IgG have been associated with clinical efficacy in immunotherapy studies, but whether this antibody isotype is associated with clinical tolerance in the setting of environmental exposure remains unclear.
Objective To determine if mouse allergen-specific IgG (mIgG) and IgG4 (mIgG4) levels are associated with mouse-related symptoms among IgE-sensitized laboratory workers.
Methods Fifty-eight workers with either skin test or serologic evidence of IgE-mediated mouse sensitization were studied. Symptom data were obtained by a questionnaire. Serum levels of mouse-specific IgG, IgG4, and IgE were quantified by a solid-phase antigen-binding assay (IgG) and RAST (IgG4 and IgE), and the relationships between mouse-specific serologic responses and mouse-related symptoms were analysed.
Results Twenty-three (39.7%) participants reported mouse-related symptoms. Mouse-specific IgG and IgG4 levels were not associated with mouse-related symptoms among the study population as a whole. Among the 29 (50%) participants with detectable mouse-specific IgE (mIgE), higher mouse-specific IgG and IgG4 levels were associated with a decreased risk of symptoms, after adjusting for mIgE level (odds ratio (OR) 0.3, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.1–1.4, and OR 0.3, 95% CI: 0.04–2.6, respectively). Higher levels of mIgG and mIgG4 remained associated with a decreased risk of symptoms after additional adjustment for sex and handling of mice (OR 0.1, 95% CI: 0.02–0.7, and OR 0.2, 95% CI: 0.02–2.1, respectively). Higher mIgG : IgE and mIgG4 : IgE ratios were also associated with a decreased risk of symptoms after adjusting for these confounders (OR 0.1, 95% CI: 0.02–0.7, and OR 0.2, 95% CI: 0.02–0.92, respectively).
Conclusion Among workers with detectable mIgE, higher mIgG and mIgG4 levels are associated with a decreased risk of mouse-related symptoms. High serum levels of mIgG or mIgG4 may be markers for clinical tolerance among laboratory mouse workers with detectable mIgE, but these findings need to be confirmed in larger, prospective studies.