Does hyperimmunoglobulinemia-E protect tropical populations from allergic disease?

James W. Larrick, C. Edward Buckley, Carolyn E. Machamer, Gregory D. Schlagel, James A. Yost, J. Blessing-Moore, David Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


The Waorani Indians of eastern Ecuador have the highest blood concentration of IgE reported in a human population. Evidence obtained by medical history, physical examination, and immediate hypersensitivity skin tests suggests that pollen allergy and other atopic diseases are rare among the Waorani. A similar association between parasite-induced hyperimmunoglobulinemia-E and a low prevalence of conventional atopic disease has been reported in numerous other tropical populations. Saturation of mast cell IgE receptors with antibodies directed to the parasite and/or other antigens and competitive inhibition of passive binding of pollen allergen-specific IgE is one hypothetical cause of this association. We have tested this interesting conjecture by passively sensitizing the skin of Waorani Indians with serum containing pollen allergen-specific IgE antibodies. Waorani Indians with hyperimmunoglobulinemia-E can be adoptively sensitized with human ragweed or eye grass hyperimmune IgE antisera. This suggests that the cutaneous mast cells of healthy Waorani have active IgE receptors. The high circulating plasma concentrations of IgE in the Waorani do not prevent adoptive cutaneous sensitization with pollen-specific IgE antibodies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-188
Number of pages5
JournalThe Journal of allergy and clinical immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1983

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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