• asthma;
  • allergic;
  • diagnosis;
  • immunoglobulins;
  • immunology;
  • radioimmunoas-say;
  • rhinitis, skin tests

The Pharmacia CAP System is a new assay for serum specific IgE, utilising a solid phase capable of binding more antigen than conventional systems. The CAP System has been evaluated in 69 consecutive patients referred to one allergy clinic in relation to skin prick test (SPT), radioallergosorbent test (Phadebas RAST®) and specific allergy diagnosis for five inhalant allergens, D.ptewnyssinus, timothy grass pollen, eat epithelium/dander, Cladosporium and Alternaria. Good correlation was obtained between RAST and CAP for all allergens, e.g. r=0.974 for D.pteronyssinus and r=0.964 for grass pollen. When sensitivity and specificity were examined for both CAP and RAST versus SPT, CAP was usually found to be of greater sensitivity than RAST, and of similar or slightly lower specificity. SPT gave more positive reactions than either in vitro test, but CAP gave more positives than RAST. Twenty-two of 336 (6.6%) tests were CAP positive/RAST negative, whereas a negative CAP with a positive RAST occurred in only 2/336 (0.6%) tests. Of patients with any test (SPT or RAST or CAP) for specific IgE positive, up to 20–30% did not have clinical allergy, confirming the importance of the history in interpreting these tests. Our results suggest that, for the allergens tested, the Pharmacia CAP System is more sensitive than the RAST, identifying more positive tests and approximating more closely to the SPT. It offers the additional advantages of speed and efficiency.