Background: Component-resolved diagnostics using microarray technology has recently been introduced into clinical allergology, but its applicability in children with food allergy has hardly been investigated so far. The aim of this study was to evaluate the utility of microarray-based IgE detection in the diagnostic workup of food allergy and to compare this new diagnostic tool with established methods of allergen-specific IgE detection.
Methods: We investigated 130 infants and children with suspected allergy to cow’s milk (CM) or hen’s egg (HE). Serum IgE measurements, skin prick tests, allergen microarray assays and controlled oral food challenges with HE and CM were performed.
Results: We analyzed 145 oral challenges that served as reference parameters for assay performance assessment. On this basis, the panel of microarrayed allergen components was shown to represent a comprehensive repertoire of clinically relevant CM and HE proteins. Additionally, the implemented CM and HE components respectively sufficed for equivalent test performance as compared to the corresponding fluorescence enzyme immunoassay extract and skin testing. However, component-resolved diagnostics for HE and CM allergy did not make oral food challenges superfluous. Clinical IgE decision points predicting positive oral food challenges could be calculated for both in vitro test methods.
Conclusions: Allergen microarrays provide a new tool to diagnose symptomatic CM and HE allergy. They show performance characteristics comparable to the current diagnostic tests and may be indicated in small children in whom only small blood volumes are obtainable. However, they are not capable of replacing double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenges in most cases.