The role of hen’s egg-specific IgE, IgG and IgG4 in the diagnostic procedure of hen’s egg allergy


  • Edited by: Hans-Uwe Simon

Kirsten Beyer, Department of Pediatric Pneumology and Immunology, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Augustenburger Platz 1, 13353 Berlin, Germany.
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To cite this article: Ahrens B, Lopes de Oliveira LC, Schulz G, Borres MP, Niggemann B, Wahn U, Beyer K. The role of hen’s egg-specific IgE, IgG and IgG4 in the diagnostic procedure of hen’s egg allergy. Allergy 2010; 65: 1554–1557.


Background:  Hen’s egg (HE) allergy is a common disease in childhood. HE-specific serum IgE has been correlated with the outcome of oral food challenge tests, and diagnostic decision points have been described as helpful but still not sufficient to reduce the requirement for oral food challenges. The aim of the study was to correlate HE-specific IgE, IgG and IgG4 levels with the outcome of double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenges (DBPCFC) in patients with suspected HE allergy to improve diagnostic procedures.

Methods:  HE-specific IgE, IgG, and IgG4 levels were compared between 150 children with suspected HE allergy based on sensitization and/or patient’s history who underwent DBPCFC. Sixty-six patients were HE-allergic (HE-sensitized with a positive DBPCFC), 48 HE-sensitized but tolerant (negative DBPCFC), and 36 patients were nonsensitized and tolerant (negative DBPCFC). Prior to food challenge HE-specific serum IgE, IgG, and IgG4 were measured with the Phadia CAP-system.

Results:  HE-specific IgE was significantly higher in HE-allergic patients than in clinically tolerant ones. However, there was no difference in HE-specific IgG and IgG4 concentrations between the patient groups.

Conclusion:  A proposed cut-off level of 12 kU/l IgE would identify children above this level correctly as HE-allergic. The level of HE-specific IgG or IgG4 in serum of children with suspected HE allergy does not add any additional information in the diagnostic procedure of HE allergy. For diagnostic purposes, specific IgG or IgG4 should not routinely be tested.