Abstract

Background: The relationship between sensitization to allergens and disease is complex.

Objective: We sought to identify patterns of response to a broad range of allergen components and investigate associations with asthma, eczema, and hay fever.

Methods: Serum specific IgE levels to 112 allergen components were measured by using a multiplex array (Immuno Solid-phase Allergen Chip) in a population-based birth cohort. Latent variable modeling was used to identify underlying patterns of component-specific IgE responses; these patterns were then related to asthma, eczema, and hay fever.

Results: Two hundred twenty-one of 461 children had IgE to 1 or more components. Seventy-one of the 112 components were recognized by 3 or more children. By using latent variable modeling, 61 allergen components clustered into 3 component groups (CG1, CG2, and CG3); protein families within each CG were exclusive to that group. CG1 comprised 27 components from 8 plant protein families. CG2 comprised 7 components of mite allergens from 3 protein families. CG3 included 27 components of plant, animal, and fungal origin from 12 protein families. Each CG included components from different biological sources with structural homology and also nonhomologous proteins arising from the same biological source. Sensitization to CG3 was most strongly associated with asthma (odds ratio [OR], 8.20; 95% CI, 3.49-19.24; P < .001) and lower FEV1 (P < .001). Sensitization to CG1 was associated with hay fever (OR, 12.79; 95% CI, 6.84-23.90; P < .001). Sensitization to CG2 was associated with both asthma (OR, 3.60; 95% CI, 2.05-6.29) and hay fever (OR, 2.52; 95% CI, 1.38-4.61).

Conclusions: Latent variable modeling with a large number of allergen components identified 3 patterns of IgE responses, each including different protein families. In 11-year-old children the pattern of response to components of multiple allergens appeared to be associated with current asthma and hay fever but not eczema.