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Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2017 Dec;66(12):1557-1562. doi: 10.1007/s00262-017-2048-1. Epub 2017 Aug 9.

Atopy and prostate cancer: Is there a link between circulating levels of IgE and PSA in humans?

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Division of Cancer Studies, King's College London, Translational Oncology and Urology Research (TOUR), London, UK.
Division of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine, St. John's Institute of Dermatology, King's College London and NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at Guy's and St. Thomas's Hospitals and King's College London, London, UK.
Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.
Cancer Registry Zurich and Zug, Vogelsangstrasse 10, 8091, Zurich, Switzerland.



Atopy has been investigated as a potential risk factor for prostate cancer. IgE antibodies may be major players in protective responses against tumours, through engendering antigen presentation and enhancing adaptive immune responses targeted towards a specific allergen, but potentially also against tumour-associated antigens such as prostate-specific antigen (PSA). We therefore cross-sectionally investigated associations between circulating levels of PSA and IgE in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006.


We focused on all men aged 40+ years with measurements for PSA and IgE, and no previous diagnosis of prostate cancer (n = 1312). We estimated the association between total and specific IgE concentration and levels of PSA with logistic regression models, adjusted for age, ethnicity/race, education, smoking status, body mass index (BMI), physical activity status, and history of asthma.


Both total IgE and the sum of specific IgE were inversely associated with the risk of having PSA levels ≥10 ng/mL, though most findings were not statistically significant. The odds ratios for the second and third tertile of total IgE as compared to the first were 0.21 (95% CI 0.06-0.72) and 0.42 (0.08-2.31). The odds ratio for sum of abnormal specific IgE measurements was 0.77 (0.44-1.34).


Despite statistical insignificance, the observed trend warrants further research given the increasing evidence of the role of atopy and IgE antibodies in protective responses against tumours. A lifecourse approach of measuring IgE, specific subtypes, and other markers of the humoral immune system (i.e. IgG) could shed more light on its potential anti-cancer characteristics.


Atopy; IgE; PSA; Prostate cancer

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