Table of Contents > Allergies > Allergen-specific IgE antibody test Print

Allergen-specific IgE antibody test


Also listed as: WAS
Related terms
Author information
How it is performed
Test results

Related Terms
  • Antibodies, auto recessive, B-cells, bone marrow, bone marrow transplant, CBC, genetic disorder, immune system, immunodeficiency, inherited disorder, inherited immunodeficiency, leukocytes, leukemia, lymphoma, lymphocytes, malignancy, platelets, pneumonia, red blood cells, T-cells, thrombocytes, thrombocytopenia, tumor, WASP, white blood cells, Wiskott Aldrich syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein, X-linked.

  • Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome (WAS) is an inherited, immunodeficiency disorder that occurs almost exclusively in males. The recessive genetic disorder is caused by a mutation in the WAS (Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome) gene, which is an X-linked trait. The gene mutation leads to abnormalities in B- and T-lymphocytes (white blood cells), as well as blood platelet cells. In a healthy individual, the T-cells provide protection against viral and fungal infection, the B cells produce antibodies, and platelets are responsible for blood clotting to prevent blood loss after a blood vessel injury.
  • Individuals diagnosed with WAS suffer from recurrent infections, eczema and thrombocytopenia (low levels of platelets).
  • Before 1935, patients only lived an average of eight months. Today, patients usually live an average of eight years, according to a recent case study. The cause of death is usually attributed to extensive blood loss. However, cancer (especially leukemia) is common and often fatal among WAS patients.
  • The only possible cure for WAS is a bone marrow transplant. However, if a patient's family member is not a possible match for a bone marrow donation, patients may have to wait years for a potential donor. Other aggressive treatments may also increase a patient's life expectancy. For instance, one study found that patients who underwent splenectomy (removal of the spleen) lived to be more than 25 years old. The spleen may harbor too many platelets, and cause a decrease in the number of platelets in circulation. Antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, chemotherapeutic agents, immunoglobulins and corticosteroids have also been used to relieve symptoms and treat infections and cancer associated with WAS.
  • Researchers estimate that about four people per one million live male births develop the disease in the United States.
  • The syndrome is named after Dr. Robert Anderson Aldrich, an American pediatrician who described the disease in a family of Dutch-Americans in 1954, and Dr Alfred Wiskott, a German pediatrician who discovered the syndrome in 1937. Wiskott described three brothers with a similar disease, whose sisters were unaffected.

Author information
  • This information has been edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (

  1. Binder V, Albert MH, Kabus M, et al. The genotype of the original Wiskott phenotype. N Engl J Med. 2006 Oct 26;355(17):1790-3.
  2. Jin Y, Mazza C, Christie JR, et al. Mutations of the Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome Protein (WASP): hotspots, effect on transcription, and translation and phenotype/genotype correlation. Blood. 2004 Dec 15;104(13):4010-9. Epub 2004 Jul 29.
  3. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. .
  4. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Inherited Immunodeficiencies: Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome (WAS). .
  5. U.S. Immune Deficiency Foundation. The Wiskott Aldrich Syndrome. .

How it is performed
  • The allergen-specific IgE antibody test is an in vitro test, which means it is conducted outside of the body in a laboratory setting.
  • During the procedure, a sample of blood is taken from the patient.
  • The blood is then sent to a laboratory that performs specific IgE blood tests. Currently, more than 550 allergens are available for determinations.
  • An allergen-antigen complex is bound to an allergosorbent (paper disk) and the patient's blood is added. If the blood contains antibodies to the specific antigen, it will bind to the "tagged" immunoglobulins.
  • The patient will receive the test results in 7-14 days.

  • There are no medical risks associated with the allergen-specific IgE antibody test. Slight bruising may occur at the site where blood was taken.
  • Unlike skin tests, there is no risk of a serious allergic reaction occurring during the antibody test because the patient's body is not exposed to the allergen.

  • Pharmacia Diagnostics AB developed the allergen-specific IgE test, which was first marketed as RAST® in 1974. In 1989, Pharmacia Diagnostics AB replaced it with a superior test called the ImmunoCAP® specific IgE blood test, which is more sensitive and specific. The newer test is a cellulose polymer in a plastic reserve, which has a higher binding capacity of allergy proteins than the RAST® test. According to medical literature, the new test has replaced about 80% of the old RAST® tests in laboratories worldwide.
  • The newest version of ImmunoCap® is the only specific IgE assay to receive approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Test results
  • A qualified healthcare provider will interpret the results of the test. In general, the sensitivity of these tests range from 50-90%, with the average being about 70-75%.
  • Elevated levels of antibodies indicate an allergy. The amount of antibodies present is not proportionate to the severity of the allergy.
  • Patients who have allergies may be advised to avoid the allergen or they may be prescribed allergy medications, such as antihistamines (like diphenhydramine) or anti-inflammatories (like prednisone). However, treatment depends on the specific allergen and the severity of the allergy. Therefore, patients should consult their healthcare providers if they test positive.
  • Patients who test negative will have extremely low or nonexistent levels of antibodies. Negative results indicate that the patient does not have an allergy.
  • Tests results may not always be definitive because of accuracy limitations of individual methods. Results can be misleading if an inadequate amount of the allergen was used, or if the allergen was not standardized. In addition, researchers have not agreed on a definitive antibody level that indicates a positive result. If the results are inconclusive, a skin test may be recommended. During a skin test, the skin is exposed to different allergy-causing substances (allergens) and then observed for an allergic reaction.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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