Background: Monitoring of the allergen sensitivity of a patient is most important for optimal patient care and a basic prerequisite for immunomodulating treatment. The objective of this study was to investigate how basophil allergen sensitivity can be applied in the monitoring of anti-immunoglobulin E (IgE) treatment.
Methods: Basophils from timothy grass pollen allergic patients were, by flow cytometry, analysed for allergen threshold sensitivity (CD-sens) by measuring CD63 up-regulation on CD203c-identified basophils. The results were compared with maximal percentage CD63 up-regulation at one allergen dose (CD-max), skin prick test end-point allergen titration, (SPT-sens), nasal provocation titration tests (nasal provocation titre) and serum IgE and IgE antibody concentrations.
Results: There was a significant correlation (r = 0.50, P = 0.01) between CD-sens and SPT-sens, CD-sens and the IgE antibody concentration in percentage of ‘total IgE’ (relative IgE antibody concentration) (r = 0.72, P < 0.001) as well as between CD-sens and nasal provocation titre (r = 0.54, P < 0.05) but, in contrast, CD-max did not correlate with any of the sensitization parameters, i.e. SPT-sens, nasal provocation titre, absolute and relative IgE antibody concentration or CD-sens. CD-sens could be used to monitor omalizumab treatment efficacy while, based on CD-max, four of seven symptom-free patients on omalizumab would have been classified as having ongoing allergy.
Conclusions: CD-sens seems to be very useful for the determination of a patient's allergen sensitivity and should be evaluated for the measurement and monitoring of anti-IgE treatment efficacy. CD-max, the conventional approach to basophil allergen challenge, which mirrors cell reactivity, gives incorrect information.