The most common tests for allergen sensitization in patients with allergic rhinitis are the skin-prick test (SPT) and an in vitro test to detect serum specific immunoglobulin E (sIgE). However, in vitro allergen test results were interpreted dichotomically as positive or negative at a threshold of 0.35 kU/L of sIgE, regardless of the patient characteristics or antigen types.
The purpose of this study was to determine the cutoff value for sIgE in house-dust mites and animal dander, and to analyze differences in cutoff value according to age and gender.
A total of 16,209 patients with more than one allergic rhinitis symptom who underwent both SPT and serum sIgE testing were retrospectively evaluated between March 2008 and May 2012. There were 9374 male (57.8%) and 6835 female (42.2%) patients. The mean age was 31.8 years (range, 2-89 years). The criterion standard for allergen sensitization was defined as a wheal of >3 mm or an allergen-to-histamine ratio of ≥1 in SPT results. The Youden index was used to calculate the cutoff value of sIgE.
Cutoff values of sIgE for Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, Dermatophagoides farinae, cat, and dog were 0.69, 1.16, 0.13, and 0.45 kU/L, respectively. The cutoff value of sIgE changed according to age for D. pteronyssinus and D. farinae but not for cat and dog allergens. When categorizing according to age group, the cutoff values of sIgE for D. pteronyssinus and D. farinae had a tendency to decrease with age. There was no significant difference in cutoff value according to gender.
The cutoff value for sIgE differed for each antigen and changed with age. Physicians should select the proper cutoff value for sIgE for appropriate criteria according to antigen and patient age rather than using a uniform cutoff value.