Author: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer

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Last updated on: 23.01.2021

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Total IgE

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190 kDa glycoprotein found in the gamma globulin fraction in serum immunoelectrophoresis. IgE accounts for only 0.004% of serum immunoglobulins and has the typical shape of the Y, similar to IgG or IgD, but a longer stem.

IgE production is detectable from the 11th week of gestation. IgE is detectable in the cord blood of approximately 50% of newborns. The plasma half-life of IgE is about 2 days.

The pathogenetic significance of allergen-specific IgE in rhinitis allergica and bronchial asthma consists in IgE-mediated activation of inflammatory cells, especially mast cells by allergens with consecutive liberation of preformed and newly generated mediators. IgE binds to mast cells or basophilic granulocytes via Fc receptors and can persist there for years. It also plays an important role in the defence against parasites and worms. An IgE-dependent cytotoxicity mediated by eosinophil granulocytes is assumed.

General information
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Indications for the determination of total IgE are mostly given in connection with the determination of specific IgE:

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Standard values: The information on reference ranges for IgE varies and may be different depending on the method used. At the age of 6-14 years, the range is widest.

  • Normal values:
    • Newborns: < 2.0 U/ml
    • 1st year: 40.0 U/ml
    • 2nd year: 100.0 U/ml
    • 3rd year: 150.0 U/ml
    • 5th year: 190,0 U/ml
    • 6th year: 150.0 U/ml
    • > 16 years: 120.0 U/ml.

The highest values (> 10,000 U/ml) are found in atopic eczema. If the values are excessively elevated (> 20,000 U/ml), a cellular immunodeficiency must be considered in the differential diagnosis. High total IgE in combination with high blood eosinophilia is typical for parasitosis. An increase in umbilical cord IgE > 0.9 U/ml can be considered a predictive parameter for an atopic risk. The reverse conclusion is not allowed. In one study it was reported that in 60% of all patients with chronic urticaria the total IgE was elevated.

Pathologically increased: parasitosis, malignant tumors, hyper-IgE syndrome, allergy, atopic dermatosis, congenital and acquired T-cell functional diseases.

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  1. Buss YA et al (2007) Chronic urticaria--which clinical parameters are pathogenetically relevant? A retrospective investigation of 339 patients. J Dtsch Dermatol Ges 5: 22-27
  2. Renz H et al (2009) In vitro allergy diagnostics. Guideline of the German Society for Allergology and Clinical Immunology (DGAKI) Allergo J 19: 110-128


Last updated on: 23.01.2021