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Clin Transl Allergy. 2013 Sep 2;3(1):29. doi: 10.1186/2045-7022-3-29.

Omalizumab may decrease IgE synthesis by targeting membrane IgE+ human B cells.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Division of Immunology Research, Children's Mercy Hospitals & Clinics, Kansas City, MO 64108, USA.



Omalizumab, is a humanized anti-IgE monoclonal antibody used to treat allergic asthma. Decreased serum IgE levels, lower eosinophil and B cell counts have been noted as a result of treatment. In vitro studies and animal models support the hypothesis that omalizumab inhibits IgE synthesis by B cells and causes elimination of IgE-expressing cells either by induction of apoptosis or induction of anergy or tolerance.


We examined the influence of omalizumab on human tonsillar B cell survival and on the genes involved in IgE synthesis. Tonsillar B cells were stimulated with IL-4 plus anti-CD40 antibody to induce class switch recombination to IgE production in the presence or absence of omalizumab. Cell viability was assessed and RNA extracted to examine specific genes involved in IgE synthesis.


We found that omalizumab reduced viable cell numbers but this was not through induction of apoptosis. IL-4R and germline Cϵ mRNA levels were decreased as well as the number of membrane IgE+ cells in B cells treated with omalizumab. These data suggest that omalizumab may decrease IgE synthesis by human B cells by specifically targeting membrane IgE-bearing B cells and inducing a state of anergy.

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