Asthma has rarely been studied by evaluating all of its trigger factors in 1 study population. Thus, correlations between the concentration of allergen immunoglobulin (Ig) E antibodies and airway limitation or asthma severity remain unclear.
Five hundred and seventy-nine asthmatic patients were enrolled, and serum specific IgE antibodies to allergens were analyzed. All suspected trigger factors were assessed by questionnaire, case histories over a 4-year period, and diary card recordings; possible trigger factors were then re-evaluated.
Antibodies to the following allergens were found: Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (59.8% of patients), D. microceras (58.8%), D. farinae (56.8%), cockroach (38.3%), dog dander (26.3%), Candida albicans (13.3%), cat dander (10%), and Cladosporium herbarum (6.6%). A greater prevalence of allergy to dog and cat dander was found than previously. Younger patients were more often positive for mite allergens, and had higher titers of antibodies against such allergens, than older patients. Further, females had a lower concentration of mite allergen antibodies than males. No correlation between the concentration of allergen antibodies and forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), or the ratio of FEV1:forced vital capacity (FEV1:FVC), was found. In addition, there was no significant change in antibody titers with varying asthma severity. Non-allergenic trigger factors were irritant air inhalants (94.6% of patients), respiratory infection (92.2%), exercise (75.2%), emotional factors (58.8%), drugs and chemical substances (16%).
There are multiple trigger factors in asthma. Allergenic trigger factors are more common in younger than older patients, whereas non-allergenic trigger factors are more common in older patients. There was no linear correlation between the concentration of specific IgE antibodies and asthma severity or airway limitation; therefore, to prevent asthma attacks in individual asthmatic patients, greater attention should be paid to avoiding all potential trigger factors, and not just house dust mite allergens.