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Allergy Asthma Proc. 2002 Jan-Feb;23(1):35-9.

Prevalence of allergen-specific IgE among patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.

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Department of Allergology and Internal Disease, University Medical School, Bialystok, Poland.


The prevalence of atopy among patients having chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) has been reported to be as high as 80% in published surveys of patients with this syndrome. However, many of the reports relied on self-assessment by patients for the presence of atopy or solely used total immunoglobulin E (IgE) levels to assess the likelihood of atopy. To more critically assess the presence of atopy among patients with CFS, testing was done for total IgE and allergen-specific IgE using the Pharmacia CAP system including 20 common allergens: trees (birch/oak/ash), grass (rye/blue), weeds (common/giant ragweed), molds (Penicillium/Aspergillus/Alternaria), dust mites (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus/Dermatophagoides farinae), animal dander (cat/dog), and foods (egg white/milk/wheat/corn/peanut/shrimp). Testing of 50 patients having documented CFS indicated that 78% had total IgE < 100 IU/mL, among whom 26% had a positive test for allergen-specific IgE of class I or greater for one or more allergens. Among the 22% of CFS patients having a total IgE > 100 IU/mL, 73% had a positive test for allergen-specific IgE for one or more allergens. The most commonly positive allergens were dust mites (24-26%), whereas molds (0-6%) and foods (0-4%) were rarely positive. The overall frequency of positive results for the presence of allergen-specific IgE among CFS patients was 36%, not significantly different from the normal prevalence of these antibodies in the general population (20-35%). This assessment of the prevalence of allergen-specific IgE antibodies in patients with CFS fails to support a potential association between CFS and atopy.

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