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Clin Exp Allergy. 2009 Jan;39(1):33-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2222.2008.03135.x. Epub 2008 Nov 17.

Atopic and non-atopic allergic disorders: current insights into the possible involvement of free immunoglobulin light chains.

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Division of Pharmacology and Pathophysiology, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Faculty of Science, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Allergic diseases have become a serious global health problem in the developed world. IgE interacting with its high-affinitiy receptor FcepsilonRI is considered a major contributing factor to most types of allergies, but depending on the type of allergy, however, a subgroup of patients displays common symptoms and yet lack elevated levels of total serum IgE and/or antigen-specific IgE. Novel therapeutic strategies such as anti-IgE therapy may therefore not be applicable to these patients. It is clear, however, that these patients do display activation of mast cells. In several patients suffering from immunological disorders, an increase in free immunoglobulin (IG) light chain levels can be detected. Previously, we have described the capability of free light chains to elicit immediate hypersensitivity responses. In this Opinion article, we will discuss the role of IgE- and non-IgE-mediated mechanisms in allergic disorders and point out a possible role of free IG light chains in the pathogenesis of the non-atopic types of these allergies.

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