Assessment of allergen sensitization in a general population-based survey (European Community Respiratory Health Survey I)

Philippe Jean Bousquet*, Christel Castelli, Jean Pierre Daures, Joachim Heinrich, Richard Hooper, Jordi Sunyer, Matthias Wjst, Deborah Jarvis, Peter Burney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Exposed to a common environment, the IgE-mediated immune response differs, for instance, among sensitized subjects, some of them reacting toward one allergen (monosensitized) whereas others are sensitized to a wide array of allergens (polysensitized). However, a better phenotypic characterization is needed for epidemiologic studies. Using the data collected during the ECRHS I (European Community Respiratory Health Survey), several assessments of skin prick tests and serum-specific IgE to identify mono- and polysensitized patients were compared. Methods: Subjects took part in the ECRHS-I. The CAP-System was used for serum allergen-specific IgE, and allergen-coated Phazet was used for prick tests. Four allergens (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, cat, timothy grass, and Cladosporium) were measured using IgE and nine (the same ones plus olive pollen, birch, Alternaria, Parietaria, and ragweed) were skin tested. One to two local allergens were also tested, depending on countries. Results: Prevalence of sensitization in 11,355 subjects (34.0 [27.9-40.1] years, 49.9% men) ranged from 32.3% (four specific IgE, 19.3% mono- and 13.0% polysensitized) to 41.8% (four specific IgE combined to nine prick tests, 19.6% mono- and 22.2% polysensitized). Concordance between four specific IgE and four prick tests was weak (weighted κ 0.65 [0.64-0.66]). Concordance between seven and nine prick tests was high (weighted κ 0.99 [0.98-1.00]). Local allergens induced small changes in the prevalence of sensitization, and reclassified some subjects from mono- to polysensitized. Conclusions: Skin tests or serum-specific IgE may be chosen to identify allergenic sensitivity, mono- and polysensitized subjects without being strictly interchangeable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)797-803
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Epidemiology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The GA 2 LEN (Global Allergy and Asthma European Network) was supported by EU Framework program for research ( FOOD-CT-2004-506378 ). Financial support for ECRHS I includes the following grants: Australia: Allen and Hanbury's ; Belgium: Belgian Science Policy Office, National Fund for Scientific Research ; France: Ministère de la Santé, Glaxo France, Insitut Pneumologique d'Aquitaine, Contrat de Plan Etat-Région Languedoc-Rousillon, CNMATS, CNMRT ( 90MR/10, 91AF/6 ), Ministre délégué de la santé, RNSP ; Germany: GSF, and the Bundesminister für Forschung und Technologie, Bonn ; Italy: Ministero del Università e della Ricerca Scientifica e Tecnologica, CNR, Regione Veneto (RSF n. 381/05.93 ); New Zealand: Asthma Foundation of New Zealand, Lotteries Grant Board, Health Research Council of New Zealand ; Norway: Norwegian Research Council (project 101422/310 ); The Netherlands: Dutch Ministry of Wellbeing, Public Health and Culture ; Spain: Ministero Sanidad y Consumo FIS ( 91/0016060/00E-05E and 93/0393 ), and grants from Hospital General de Albacete, Hospital General Juan Ramón Jiménenz, Consejeria de Sanidad Principado de Asturias ; Sweden: The Swedish Medical Research Council, the Swedish Heart Lung Foundation, the Swedish Association against Asthma and Allergy ; Switzerland: Swiss National Science Foundation ( 4026-28099 ); UK: National Asthma Campaign, British Lung Foundation, Department of Health, South Thames Regional Health Authority ; United States SA: US Department of Health, Education and Welfare Public Health Service ( 2 S07 RR05521-28 ).


  • IgE
  • Sensitization
  • Skin prick test


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