What are IgE antibodies?
IgE antibodies, which stand for immunoglobulin E antibodies, are a type of antibody that plays an important role in the immune system against allergens, such as pollen, fur animals, mites and certain foods.
How are IgE antibodies formed and what triggers the allergic reaction?
In case of allergy, the body forms antibodies against the proteins that cause the allergy. When a person with an allergy is exposed to the allergen, that is, the protein to which the body reacts, the immune system reacts by producing antibodies called IgE antibodies. These antibodies then attach to mast cells and basophils, which are cells found in the body's tissues and which release histamine upon contact with the allergen. The histamine then causes the symptoms that are characteristic of the allergy, such as itching, nasal congestion and skin rash.
What are the most common allergens for which IgE antibodies can be tested?
The most common allergens for which IgE antibodies are tested are:
- Pollen: allergens from trees, grass and weeds.
- Animals: allergens from cats, dogs, horses and other fur animals.
- Mites: small spider-like organisms found in dust and textiles.
- Food: allergens from e.g. peanuts, nuts, milk, eggs and shellfish.
- Mold: allergens from mold spores found in moist indoor environments.
Testing IgE antibodies to these allergens can help determine whether a person has an allergic reaction to a particular substance, and can be used to diagnose allergies and develop appropriate treatment plans. It is important to note that a positive IgE test does not always mean a clinical allergy, and that an allergy diagnosis should be made by a physician based on a person's medical history, symptoms, and other diagnostic tests.
What can high/elevated values of IgE antibodies indicate?
High and elevated levels of IgE antibodies may indicate an allergic reaction or a parasitic infection. In case of allergy, IgE antibodies are formed when the body reacts to specific allergens, such as pollen, fur animals, mites or certain foods. The elevated levels of IgE antibodies may be a sign that the body is trying to fight these allergens.
What can affect the level of IgE antibodies?
It is important to note that the levels of IgE antibodies in the blood can vary depending on many factors, including age, sex, medication and allergic history. An allergist can use measurements of IgE antibodies along with other diagnostic tests to determine whether or not a person is allergic to a particular allergen. IgE antibodies can also be used to monitor the effectiveness of allergy treatment, such as allergen-specific immunotherapy (ASIT), which is a treatment that aims to reduce allergy symptoms by gradually exposing the body to small amounts of the allergen.
Are IgE antibodies formed even if you are not allergic?
A person who is not allergic to a certain substance or protein does not normally create antibodies against this substance or protein. Antibodies are usually formed as part of the body's immune system in response to an infection or when the body is exposed to a foreign substance, such as a bacteria or virus. If a person has not been exposed to a certain allergen, or if their immune system does not react to this allergen, they will not form antibodies against that allergen.