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Int J Epidemiol. 2000 Feb;29(1):125-30.

Sensitization to individual allergens as risk factors for lower FEV1 in young adults. European Community Respiratory Health Survey.

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Respiratory and Environmental Health Research Unit, Institut Municipal d'Investigació Mèdica, Barcelona, Spain.



Atopy may impair ventilatory function, but results are controversial. We assess the association between individual reactivity to allergens and the level of baseline maximal one-second forced expiratory volume (FEV1), by smoking and respiratory symptoms.


The 1472 participants (response 44.5%) of the five Spanish areas of the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS) who performed respiratory function tests, skin prick tests and/or specific IgE against common aeroallergens (e.g. mites, pets, mould, pollens) are included. Bronchial hyperreactivity (BHR) was measured with a methacholine challenge.


After adjusting for BHR and smoking, in addition to the other allergens, skin reactivity to Alternaria (-208 ml; 95% CI :-451, 35) and IgE antibodies against cat (-124 ml; 95% CI:-269, 21) and Timothy grass (-115 ml, 95% CI:-190, -40) were associated with a decrease in FEV1 in females. Among males, skin reactivity to olive showed the strongest association (-111 ml; 95% CI: -261, 38). The associations were stronger in females. Smoking modifies the association for Alternaria and cat (P for interaction < 0.05). While cat is associated with a decrease in FEV1 in current smokers (-190 ml), Alternaria (-336 ml) was associated among never smokers. The exclusion of subjects with asthma symptoms, or adjustment for respiratory symptoms, led to similar results.


We conclude that immunoresponse to individual allergens (particularly outdoor) is associated with the level of FEV1, and this association occurred independently of asthma, and in smokers and non-smokers, which may be of interest in natural history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

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