The role of IgE in allergic disease is by now well recognized. The study of the cellular basis of IgE regulation has been actively pursued to gain insights into the pathogenesis of a disease that affects a considerable proportion of the population. More recently, the molecular events underlying IgE synthesis have become the focus of intense interest, in an attempt to characterize the signals involved in isotype-specific regulation of immunoglobulin synthesis. Recent evidence from different laboratories indicates that induction of IgE synthesis requires two signals: one is IgE isotype-specific, and is delivered by IL-4, the other is a B cell activating signal that can be delivered through a variety of pathways. We will herein review what is currently known about the mechanisms underlying the synthesis of IgE in humans, as they are revealed through cellular and molecular biology studies.
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