The changes of the serum IgE levels, specific immediate skin-test responses, and RAST measurements with age were evaluated. A total of 331 unrelated individuals were studied. consisting of 166 subjects with ragweed allergic rhinitis and/or asthma, 67 with idiopathic (intrinsic) asthma, and 98 who appeared in good health with no clinical evidence of atopic diseases. All subjects were evaluated by history and physical examination, intradermal skin testing to the common aeroallergens, measurement of IgE antibody to common aeroallergen, with the RAST, and serum IgE levels. Results demonstrated a significant decrease in serum IgE levels with aging in atopic individuals. This decline was exponential in character. In addition, a tendency for RAST and immediate type skin-test responses for selected antigens and histamine to decrease with age was observed.
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Immune function as measured by some cellular and humoral parameters decline with age.‘, 2 Studies both in animals and man provide a great deal of evidence linking some diseases of adult life, such as cancer, autoimmune disease, and infection, to a decline in immune function.‘. 2 Although the effects of a declining immune system in general are undesirable, the condition of subjects with reaginic-mediated rhinitis and asthma may improve. 3, 4 The reduced incidence of atopic symptoms in older individuals may be caused by a decline of antibody synthesis, an alteration of effector systems, or changes in the target organ responses. In this article we evaluated the aging processes in nonatopic and atopic populations. A significant reduction with age of serum IgE levels was noted in the atopic group. In addition, skin test and From the Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota, Min-neapolis, Minn.; Department of Medicine, Mayo Medical School, Rochester, Minn.; Department of Community and Pre-ventive Medicine, State University of New York, Stony Brook, N.Y .; and Department of Immunogenetics, Harvard University. Boston, Mass. Supported by NIH grants AI 11483 and HL 23631. Received for publication April 7, 198 1. Accepted for publication Aug. 21, 1981. Reprint requests to: Malcolm N. Blumenthal, M.D., Box 434 Mayo Memorial. 420 Delaware St. SE, Minneapolis, MN
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