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Eur Respir J. 1998 Feb;11(2):278-83.

The Po River Delta Respiratory Epidemiological Survey: an analysis of factors related to level of total serum IgE.

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  • 1Dept of Experimental and Diagnostic Medicine, University of Ferrara, Italy.


The purpose of the present study was to analyse whether sex, age, skin test reactivity, cigarette smoking and occupational exposure were related to the total serum immunoglobulin (Ig)E concentrations (kU x L[-1]), in a general population sample. We studied 1,905 subjects (915 males, 990 females) of a general population sample (n=2,841, 8-73 yrs) participating in the second cross-sectional respiratory epidemiological survey in the rural Po Delta area (near Venice, North Italy). Distribution of total serum IgE concentrations was skewed, thus a log-transformation was performed to obtain a Gaussian shape. Significantly higher values of IgE were found in males compared to females. In general, a peak of IgE concentration was found at 8-14 yrs. IgE values tended to be lower in older than younger adults. Significantly higher serum IgE levels were shown in subjects with a positive skin-prick test index (ST+) than in those with a negative skin-prick test index (ST-). There was a significant relationship of total IgE levels with skin reactivity to pollens and house-dust mites. In both sexes higher values of IgE were found in current smokers than in ex-nonsmokers, regardless of skin-test reactivity. There was no significant difference in IgE values between ex- and nonsmokers. Passive smoking and occupational exposure were significantly related to increased IgE values. Our results confirm that in a general population sample immunoglobulin E concentrations are related not only to skin-prick test reactivity to common aeroallergens, but also to other risk factors for chronic obstructive lung diseases, such as sex, active/ passive smoking and occupational exposure.

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