• allergen-specific IgA;
  • allergic rhinitis;
  • children;
  • nasal secretions

Allergen-specific immunoglobulins of the Immunoglobulin A (IgA) type have been found in the nasal fluid of patients with allergic rhinitis. IgA may play a protective role, but there are also data which show that allergen-specific IgA can induce eosinophil degranulation. The aim of this study was to quantitate Bet v 1-specific IgA in relation to total IgA in the nasal fluid of children with birch pollen-induced intermittent allergic rhinitis and healthy controls, after allergen challenge and during the natural pollen season. Eosinophil cationic protein (ECP), Bet v 1-specific IgA and total IgA were analyzed in nasal fluids from 30 children with birch pollen-induced intermittent allergic rhinitis and 30 healthy controls. Samples were taken before the pollen season, after challenge with birch pollen and during the pollen season, before and after treatment with nasal steroids. During the pollen season, but not after nasal allergen challenge, Bet v 1-specific IgA increased in relation to total IgA in children with allergic rhinitis. No change was found in the healthy controls. The ratio of Bet v 1-specific IgA to total IgA increased from 0.1 × 10−3 (median) to 0.5 × 10−3 in the allergic children, p < 0.001. No change was seen after treatment with nasal steroids, although symptoms, ECP and eosinophils were reduced. In conclusion, allergen-specific IgA in relation to total IgA increases in nasal fluids during the pollen season in allergic children but not in healthy controls. These findings are compatible with the hypothesis that allergen-specific IgA plays a role in the allergic inflammation and further studies are needed to clarify the functional role of these allergen-specific antibodies.