• allergy;
  • birth cohort;
  • childhood;
  • Multi-centre Allergy Study;
  • specific IgE;
  • total IgE

Background:  The development and the quantitative relationship between allergen-specific IgE (S-IgE) responses and total IgE (T-IgE), during childhood and adolescence have not been described and understood in detail. The objective of this study was to describe and compare the longitudinal trends of serum levels of S-IgE and T-IgE during childhood.

Methods:  We analysed data from participants in the MAS birth cohort study at 2, 5, 7 and 10 years of age (n = 273) and at 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 10 and 13 years (n = 84). Total-IgE and the overall level of specific-IgE against nine locally relevant airborne and food allergens were determined by FEIA (ImmunoCAP). Allergic rhino-conjunctivitis and asthma were ascertained by questionnaires.

Results:  Longitudinal patterns of T-IgE levels from age 1 to 13 years were highly heterogeneous (declining, flat or increasing with different profiles). From 5 years of age, logarithmic (log10) transformed values of T-IgE and of S-IgE levels tend to follow a parallel trend, so that their relation remained constant throughout school age. A flat trend of T-IgE vs a constantly increasing trend of T-IgE was associated with a low or, respectively, high rate of wheezing at 13 years of age.

Conclusions:  Beginning at the age of 5 years, total serum IgE levels in children from an industrialized country evolved in parallel with overall S-IgE levels. Therefore, variations in T-IgE levels at school age closely reflect variations in overall S-IgE levels. Further studies are required to strengthen the biological and clinical implication of this novel finding.