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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1993 Sep;92(3):404-11.

Effect of anthelmintic treatment on the allergic reactivity of children in a tropical slum.

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Institute of Biomedicine, Central University of Venezuela, Caracas.


It is well known that helminthic infection can cause a polyclonal stimulation of the synthesis of IgE, which is dependent on interleukin-4 (IL-4) production, and it has been suggested that this can modulate the expression of allergic reactivity in tropical populations. We evaluated the effect of regular anthelmintic treatment, for a period of 22 months, on certain aspects of the allergic reactivity of children in a slum area of Caracas, Venezuela, where helminths are endemic. The treatment (Oxantel-Pyrantel; Quantrel) effectively eliminated intestinal helminthic infection and resulted in a significant decrease in the initially elevated total serum IgE levels. IL-4 was detectable in the serum, and a significant reduction in IL-4 was also observed after treatment. In contrast, both the immediate-hypersensitivity skin-test reactivity and serum levels of specific IgE antibody against environmental allergens were markedly increased in the treated children. In a group of children who were also evaluated in the same slum, but who declined treatment, a substantial increase in helminthic infection occurred, which was related to an acute deterioration of the socioeconomic conditions of Venezuela over the course of our study period. This was paralleled by a considerable increase in total IgE levels in these children and a decrease in the skin-test reactivities and specific IgE levels. The application of Prausnitz-K├╝stner passive transfer tests and analysis of specific IgE antibody levels indicated that the polyclonal stimulation of IgE synthesis by helminthic parasites results in mast cell Fc epsilon receptor saturation and suppression of specific IgE antibody synthesis. This inhibition of allergic reactivity is reversible by anthelmintic treatment.

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