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J Asthma. 2006 Dec;43(10):745-52.

High prevalence of skin test positivity in severe or difficult-to-treat asthma.

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  • 1Genentech Inc., 1 DNA Way, South San Francisco, CA 94080, USA.



Skin tests are considered the gold standard for detecting allergen-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) in the clinical setting and are an important tool for diagnosing and managing allergic asthma.


To assess the prevalence of skin testing in patients > or = 12 years enrolled in The Epidemiology and Natural History of Asthma: Outcomes and Treatment Regimens (TENOR) study.


Patients were asked whether they had ever been skin tested and, if so, they were asked to provide the test results. Clinical characteristics were used to compare positive (ST+), negative (ST-), and skin test not done (STND) patients.


Of 2,985 patients eligible, 85.8% recalled being skin tested. Of those tested, 93.5% were positive (allergist 95.7%, pulmonologist 87.3%). A high proportion of Whites (93.5%) and non-Whites (94.0%) were ST+; however, more non-Whites had never been skin tested (21.7% vs. 12.3%, respectively; p < 0.0001). Total serum IgE was 104.6 IU/mL for ST+ patients, 87.1 IU/mL for STND patients, and 32.4 IU/mL for ST- patients. Age at asthma onset, duration of asthma, and the prevalence of atopic disorders and asthma triggers differentiated the ST+ from the ST- group. Disease severity appeared similar between the two groups. In general, values for STND patients were closer to the ST+ group, suggesting that those not tested would have been ST+ if administered a test.


The prevalence of ST+ patients was high in allergy and pulmonology practices, and in White and non-White patients. These data support the utility of a more complete allergic evaluation in severe asthmatics. Skin testing appears associated with disease pathophysiologies in asthma.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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