Background Studies from many countries have shown an association between dampness in buildings and airway symptoms. Little is known about the role of mould-specific IgG antibodies in this context.
Objective To examine the IgG antibody response to mould applying a new flow cytometric assay, compare the results with the standardized ImmunoCap® method, and evaluate the association of IgG to IgE antibodies, dampness in buildings, and airway symptoms like wheeze and asthma.
Methods A population of 3713 children 9–11 years of age living in Northern Norway was investigated for airway symptoms and dampness at homes by a parental questionnaire, using protocols of the International study of Asthma and Allergy in Childhood (ISAAC). Among these, a case–control study of 100 wheezers and 100 non-wheezers was established that included home inspection, a parental structured interview, and serum samples analysed for mould-specific IgG and IgE antibodies, total IgE, and specific IgE to an allergen panel (Phadiatop®).
Results Self-reported visible signs of mould or moisture at home during the child's first year of life were a significant risk factor for both wheeze and asthma. The levels of mould-specific IgG antibodies were associated with mould and moisture findings, but only when IgG antibodies were measured by flow cytometry.
Conclusions The results support that dampness at home can increase the risk of airway symptoms. IgG antibodies determined by flow cytometry reflect mould exposure better than antibodies measured by the conventional method. IgG antibodies measured by flow cytometry may be used as an indicator of mould exposure.