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J Immunol Methods. 2004 Mar;286(1-2):123-32.

In vivo IgE levels in exogenous antigen stimulated responses: measurement of total IgE as a valid, simple surrogate for Ag-specific IgE.

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  • 1CIHR National Training Program in Allergy and Asthma Research, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada.


Due to its dependence on IL-4 and IL-13 production, IgE production is frequently used to assess the type 2 character of an immune effector response. It is particularly relevant to measure IgE in murine models of immediate hypersensitivity, as allergen specific IgE is a critical effector molecule in this process. Given the complexity of developing ELISAs to measure specific IgE, total IgE levels are often reported with the implicit assumption that this provides an accurate gauge of specific IgE responses. Here, we rigorously test this assumption by examining the relationship between total and Ag-specific IgE levels in mice immunized to elicit a wide range of serum IgE responses. We identify a strong, consistent relationship between total and Ag-specific IgE, regardless of the phenotype of the immune response (type 1 vs. type 2 biased), the nature of the immune response (primary vs. recall), the genetic background of mouse strain examined (C57Bl/6, BALB/c or outbred CD1 mice), or the intensity of the initial immunological stimulus (0.2, 2.0 or 100 microg OVA). These findings indicate that measurement of total IgE levels through straightforward, easy to develop, total IgE ELISAs offers an appropriate surrogate for measurement of Ag-specific IgE levels, usually measured through the use of subjective PCA assays or Ag-specific IgE ELISAs.

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