Alcohol consumption affects IGE levels but not risk of allergy


Published Online: July 27, 2016

High alcohol consumption is associated with high IgE levels in observational studies; however, whether high alcohol consumption leads to high IgE levels and allergic disease is still unclear. In a recent study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI), Lomholt and colleagues investigated the observational and genetic association between alcohol consumption and IgE levels and risk of allergic disease; that is allergic eczema, rhinitis and asthma, among 111,408 individuals from the general population aged 20 to 100 years.

By coupling a large-scale, well-adjusted observational study with a Mendelian randomization study it is possible to investigate potential causal relationships, largely free of confounding and certainly free of reverse causation. This is because genotype is distributed at random at conception, irrespective of lifestyles adopted and diseases developed later in life by an individual. Thus, naturally occurring genetic variation in 2 alcohol dehydrogenase genes, ADH-1B (rs1220084) and ADH-1C (rs698), were used as proxies for high and low alcohol consumption in adulthood to investigate possible causal relationship of high alcohol consumption with high IgE levels and allergic disease.

The authors conclude that high alcohol consumption is associated observationally and genetically with high IgE levels but not with high risk of allergic disease. Thus high alcohol consumption seems to cause high IgE levels in plasma, but this IgE level increase does not seem to lead to high risk of allergic disease; the latter is a reassuring finding.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI) is an official scientific journal of the AAAAI, and is the most-cited journal in the field of allergy and clinical immunology

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