Does natural exposure to an environmental allergen affect the risk of allergy?

Published Online:  June 24, 2011

How exposure to environmental allergens may influence whether an individual develops an allergic immune response or a non-allergic immune response is not clear. In an upcoming issue of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI), Matsui et al set out to answer this question by conducting a study of workers at The Jackson Laboratory, a mouse facility. New employees were followed for an average of 2 years and underwent repeated assessment of mouse allergen exposure, allergy skin testing, and measurement of mouse-specific IgG4, a marker of a non-allergic immune response. Relationships between both the average level of allergen exposure and the variability in allergen exposure and immune responses were examined.

The authors found that both the level and variability of mouse allergen exposure influenced the immune response, with specific patterns of exposure associated with specific types of immune responses. A pattern of stable, moderate exposure was most strongly associated with the development of an allergic immune response while a pattern of variable, high level exposure was most strongly associated with the development of an IgG4 response. Since high-level exposure may steer an allergic immune response towards an IgG4 response, allergen immunotherapy should be studied as a possible preventive measure for mouse allergy.

 

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

AAAAI - American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology