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Clin Exp Allergy. 2009 Oct;39(10):1515-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2222.2009.03288.x. Epub 2009 May 26.

Cat sensitization according to cat window of exposure in adult asthmatics.

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INSERM, U780, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Villejuif, France.



In adults, there is limited information on tolerance to cat, which may be reflected by high IgG4 without IgE sensitization. Early exposure to cat may play a critical role.


The aim was to assess among adults the association of Fel d 1 IgG4, Fel d 1 IgE, skin prick test (SPT) response to cat and pet-related symptoms in relation to exposure to cat considering the period of exposure.


SPT response to cat, specific IgE and IgG4 to Fel d 1 were assessed in 167 asthmatics recruited in chest clinics (40 years of age in average) from the French Epidemiological study on the Genetics and Environment of Asthma (EGEA). Childhood and/or current exposure to cat were studied retrospectively.


IgG4 was higher in relation to current cat exposure (0.53 vs. 0.09 ng/mL; P<0.001) and higher in women than in men. The period of cat exposure was significantly related to Fel d 1 IgE, the IgE/IgG4 pattern and cat weal size. The lowest values of Fel d 1 IgE, cat weal size, pet-related nasal or respiratory symptoms were observed in those with both childhood and current exposure as well as the highest proportion of the IgE-/IgG4+ pattern observed in 1.4%, 4.0%, 38.1% and 12.5% of those with -/-, +/-, +/+, -/+ childhood/current exposure, respectively.


Adult asthmatics exposed to cats since childhood present an immunologic pattern with high IgG4 and low IgE. Continuous exposure may maintain a state of immunological tolerance to cat.

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