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Geohelminth infections: a review of the role of IgE and assessment of potential risks of anti-IgE treatment

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Geohelminth infections are major parasitic infections with a worldwide distribution. Immunoglobulin E (IgE) is considered to play a central role in protective immunity against these parasites although the evidence from experimental animal models infected with helminth parasites and treated with anti-IgE antibodies and from observational studies in human populations of the immunologic correlates of protective immunity against helminths do not support a critical role for IgE in mediating protection against helminths. Anti-IgE treatment of human allergic disorders using a humanized monoclonal IgE antibody (omalizumab, Xolair) has been approved for clinical use in the USA and Europe and there is concern that this treatment may be associated with increased morbidity in populations exposed to helminth infections. A recently published randomized controlled trial investigating the risk of geohelminth infections in allergic patients receiving omalizumab in Brazil has provided some evidence that omalizumab may not be associated with increased morbidity attributable to these parasites. This review examines the evidence for a role of IgE in protective immunity against helminth parasites, discusses the findings of the randomized controlled trial, assesses the potential risks and provides recommendations for anti-IgE treatment in groups of allergic patients with different exposure risks for helminth infections.
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Keywords: Immunoglobulin E; allergy; asthma; geohelminth; helminth

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Novartis Horsham Research Centre, Horsham, UK 2: Departamento de Pediatria, Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Pernambuco, Brazil 3: ProAR – Programa de Controle da Asma e da Rinite Alérgica na Bahia, Faculdade de Medicina da Bahia – UFBA, and Instituto de Investigação em Imunologia (iii) – CNPq, Salvador, Brazil

Publication date: April 1, 2008

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