Number of allergens to be tested to assess allergenic sensitization in epidemiologic studies: Results of the European Community Respiratory Health Survey I

P. J. Bousquet, R. Hooper, M. Kogevinas, D. Jarvis, Peter Burney*, Susan Chinn, Christina Luezynska, Paul Vermeire, Hugo Kesteloot, Jean Bousquet, Dennis Nowak, John Prichard, Roberto de Marco, Bert Rijcken, Josep M. Anto, Jose Alves, Gunnar Boman, Michael Abramson, Jozica Kutin, Frank van BastelaerFrançoise Neukirch, Renata Liard, Isabelle Pin, Christophe Pison, André Taytard, Helgo Magnussen, H. Erich Wichmann, Joachim Heinrich, Thorarinn Gislason, H. David Gislason, John Prichard, D. Phil, Shane Allwright, Dominic MacLeod, Massimiliano Bugiani, Caterina Bucca, Canzio Romano, Roberto de Marco, Vincenzo Lo Cascio, Cesare Campello, Alessandra Marinoni, Isa Cerveri, Lucio Casali, Anja M. Kremer, Julian Crane, Simon Lewis, Around Gulsvik, Ernst Omenaas, Jordi Sunyer, Felip Burgos, Resp Tech, Jordi Castellsague, Josep Roca, Joan Soriano, Aureli Tobias, Nerea Muniozguren, Jacinto Ramos-Gonzalez, Alberto Capelastegui, Jose Castillo, Jose Rodriguez-Portal, Jesus Martinez-Moratalla, Enrique Almar-Marqnes, Jose Maldonado-Pérez, Antonio Pereira, Jose Sfinchez-Ramos, Roman Quiros, Ismael Huerta, Felix Payo-Losa, Gunnar Boman, Christer Janson, Eythor Björnsson, Leif Rosenhall, Eva Norrman, Bo Lundbgck, Nalle Lindholm, Peter Plaschke, Ursula Ackermann-Liebrich, Nino Künzli, André Perruchoud, Michael Burr, Jane Layzell, B. Russell Hall, Brian Harrison, John Stark, A. Sonia Buist, William M. Vollmer, Molly L. Osborne

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Many clinical and epidemiological studies have measured the prevalence of IgE sensitization using skin tests and/or serum-specific IgE. Most of them have been done in only one country using a battery of selected allergens relevant to that country. In multi-centre studies, the number of tested allergens is often limited by the cost. It is therefore difficult to compare prevalence of sensitized subjects between studies. Objective: To define the number and the type of allergen that should be tested in order to characterize a person as sensitized. Method: Subjects were selected from the European Community Respiratory Health Survey I. All subjects underwent skin prick tests to nine of the most common allergens. In addition, two local allergens were tested in some centres. Result: Using nine allergens, 35.6% of the 11 355 subjects were sensitized. The prevalence of sensitization increased with the number of tested allergens. Seven allergens enabled the identification of almost all sensitized subjects, adding another one inducing, in most countries, an increase of prevalence under 0.5%. Adding one local allergen to the battery of tests increased the overall estimated prevalence by only 1%. This increase was not seen in Ireland and was less marked in the United Kingdom (0.3%) but was greater in France (2.6%), Australia (2.5%) and Belgium (1.9%). Conclusion: Seven selected allergens (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, cat, grass, birch, olive pollen, Alternaria and Cladosporium) allow the identification of almost all sensitized subjects in epidemiologic studies. Inclusion of local allergen should be considered in a standard panel for international studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)780-787
Number of pages8
JournalClinical and Experimental Allergy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Allergen
  • Epidemiologic study
  • Sensitization
  • Skin prick test


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