IgE antibody to Aspergillus fumigatus recombinant allergens in cystic fibrosis patients with allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis

A P Knutsen, P S Hutcheson, R G Slavin, V P Kurup
Allergy 2004, 59 (2): 198-203

BACKGROUND: Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) in cystic fibrosis (CF) is characterized by a heightened Th2 CD4+ T-cell response to Aspergillus fumigatus (Af) allergens and a hyper-immunoglobulin E (IgE) state compared with cystic fibrosis patients without ABPA. The IgE serologic differentiation of ABPA from atopic CF patients can be difficult. We propose as the reactivity with purified antigens varies qualitatively and quantitatively and that the antibody response is more specific than with crude Af antigen extract, the IgE responses to purified recombinant Af allergens may differentiate ABPA from atopic CF patients.

METHODS: Serum IgE reactivity to seven recombinant purified allergens and to a crude extract of Af was measured in 15 ABPA, in 23 Af skin test positive (ST+), and in 19 Af skin test negative (ST-) CF patients. Four of the ABPA CF patients were studied before and after developing ABPA. Nine ABPA patients were studied during flares and remissions of ABPA.

RESULTS: Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis patients had significantly increased IgE reactivity to Asp f2, f3, f4, f6, and f16 compared with the Af ST+ and ST- non-ABPA CF patients. In the ABPA patients studied before and after developing ABPA, IgE reactivity also increased to Asp f2, f3, f4, and f6, and to the crude extract. In ABPA CF patients, IgE reactivity to Asp f1, f2, f3, and f6 significantly increased during periods of ABPA flares compared with periods of remission. Analysis of the receiver operating curve demonstrated that IgE reactivity to Asp f3 and f4 gave the best sensitivity and specificity and were better than IgE reactivity to a crude extract of Aspergillus. Furthermore, in ABPA patients studied during periods of remission the IgE reactivity to Asp f3 and f4 remained significantly elevated compared with Af ST+ non-ABPA patients. The IgE responses when considered either to be positive or negative to Asp f3 and f4 significantly differentiated ABPA from Af ST+ and ST- non-ABPA CF patients. In contrast, IgE reactivity was considered positive to the crude extract in 89% of ABPA, 61% of Af ST+, and 0% of Af ST- non-ABPA CF patients.

CONCLUSIONS: Immunoglobulin E reactivity to a panel of purified Af allergens, especially to Asp f3 and f4, differentiates ABPA from atopic Af ST+ non-ABPA CF patients. Serial determinations of IgE reactivity to individual purified Aspergillus antigens, especially Asp f3, demonstrates that increases in IgE reactivity may provide improved distinction between stages of flares and remission compared with changes in IgE reactivity to a crude Aspergillus extract.

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