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Immunoglobulin E antibody reactivity to bacterial antigens in atopic dermatitis patients


Rudolf Valenta, Division of Immunopathology, Department of Pathophysiology and Allergy Research, Center for Pathophysiology, Infectiology and Immunology, Medical University of Vienna, Waehringer Guertel 18-20, A-1090 Vienna, Austria. E-mail:


Cite this as: K. Reginald, K. Westritschnig, T. Werfel, A. Heratizadeh, N. Novak, M. Focke-Tejkl, A. M. Hirschl, D. Y. M. Leung, O. Elisyutina, E. Fedenko and R. Valenta, Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 2011 (41) 357–369.


Background Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic inflammatory skin disease affecting up to 20% children and 9% adults world-wide. AD patients are often sensitized against a broad variety of allergens and more than 90% of them suffer from skin superinfections with Staphylococcus aureus.

Objective In this study, we searched for the presence of specific IgE antibodies against S. aureus and Escherichia coli antigens in AD patients.

Methods Sera from AD patients (n=79), patients suffering only from allergic rhinoconjunctivitis (n=41) or allergic asthma (n=37) were tested for IgE reactivity to nitrocellulose-blotted S. aureus, E. coli and gut bacterial antigens. IgE-reactive bacterial antigens were affinity purified and identified by mass spectrometry.

Results More than 30% of AD patients but not patients suffering only from allergic rhinoconjunctivitis and asthma or non-allergic persons exhibited IgE binding to several protein antigens among them DNA-binding and ribosomal proteins and flagellin. Patients with severe skin manifestations showed more frequently IgE reactivity to S. aureus compared with AD patients with mild symptoms. Positive immediate and late skin test reactions could be induced in sensitized AD patients with S. aureus extract.

Conclusion and Clinical Relevance Specific IgE reactivities against a variety of bacterial antigens were observed in a subgroup comprising a third of AD patients and may contribute to allergic inflammation.