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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2005 Jan;115(1):74-9.

Cat and dust mite sensitivity and tolerance in relation to wheezing among children raised with high exposure to both allergens.

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University of Virginia Asthma and Allergic Diseases Center, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA.



Recent evidence has suggested that high exposure to cat allergens is associated with decreased prevalence of sensitization to cat and, in some studies, decreased asthma.


Our objective was to study antibodies to cat and mite allergens and their relationship to wheezing in a country with high exposure to both allergens.


Sera from 112 wheezing and 112 control children aged 10 to 11 years in a nested case-control study in New Zealand were assayed for specific IgE antibody, as well as IgG antibody and IgG4 antibody, to Der p 1 and Fel d 1.


IgE antibody to both mite (99/224) and cat (41/224) were strongly associated with wheezing (odds ratios, 5.2 and 6.5, respectively). Children who had ever lived with a cat were less likely to have IgE antibody to cat (20/141 vs 21/83, P < .04); however, cat ownership had no effect on IgE antibody to mite (67/141 vs 32/83, P = .23). Among sensitized children, cat ownership was associated with a lower prevalence of IgE antibody to cat (28% vs 66%, P < .001), and this analysis remained significant after exclusion of children whose families had chosen not to own a cat. Among sensitized subjects, the mean titer of IgE antibody to cat (1.7 IU/mL) was 10-fold lower than for mite (22.1 IU/mL). A cat in the home had no significant effect on endotoxin or mite allergen in house dust, whereas cat allergen was much higher (40.8 vs 3.3 microg/g).


The response to these 2 allergens was distinct on the basis of the prevalence of sensitization, the titer of IgE antibody, and the effect of cat ownership. The results suggest that induction of tolerance to cat allergen is an allergen-specific phenomenon that cannot be attributed to endotoxin or family choice. The strength of the IgE antibody response to dust mite in humid climates could contribute to the increased prevalence and severity of asthma.

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