Staphylococcal superantigen-specific IgE antibodies: degree of sensitization and association with severity of asthma

José Elabras Filho Fernanda Carvalho de Queiroz Mello Omar Lupi Blanca Elena Rios Gomes Bica José Angelo de Souza Papi Alfeu Tavares França About the authors

ABSTRACT

Objective:

To determine the presence of staphylococcal superantigen-specific IgE antibodies and degree of IgE-mediated sensitization, as well as whether or not those are associated with the severity of asthma in adult patients.

Methods:

This was a cross-sectional study involving outpatients with asthma under treatment at a tertiary care university hospital in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Consecutive patients were divided into two groups according to the severity of asthma based on the Global Initiative for Asthma criteria: mild asthma (MA), comprising patients with mild intermittent or persistent asthma; and moderate or severe asthma (MSA). We determined the serum levels of staphylococcal toxin-specific IgE antibodies, comparing the results and performing a statistical analysis.

Results:

The study included 142 patients: 72 in the MA group (median age = 46 years; 59 females) and 70 in the MSA group (median age = 56 years; 60 females). In the sample as a whole, 62 patients (43.7%) presented positive results for staphylococcal toxin-specific IgE antibodies: staphylococcal enterotoxin A (SEA), in 29 (20.4%); SEB, in 35 (24.6%); SEC, in 33 (23.2%); and toxic shock syndrome toxin (TSST), in 45 (31.7%). The mean serum levels of IgE antibodies to SEA, SEB, SEC, and TSST were 0.96 U/L, 1.09 U/L, 1.21 U/L, and 1.18 U/L, respectively. There were no statistically significant differences between the two groups in terms of the qualitative or quantitative results.

Conclusions:

Serum IgE antibodies to SEA, SEB, SEC, and TSST were detected in 43.7% of the patients in our sample. However, neither the qualitative nor quantitative results showed a statistically significant association with the clinical severity of asthma.

Keywords:
Asthma; Immunoglobulin E; Superantigens; Bacterial toxins; Staphylococcus aureus

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