The effect of allergen exposure in early childhood on the development of atopy
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- Custovic, A. & Murray, C.S. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep (2002) 2: 417. doi:10.1007/s11882-002-0076-0
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While there is good evidence for the association between allergen exposure and disease severity in sensitized individuals, and allergen exposure and development of sensitization, the relationship between allergen exposure and development of allergic disease is as yet unresolved. A protective effect of cat ownership on sensitization and allergic disease has been reported. The dose-response relationship between allergen exposure and sensitization may be different for different allergens (eg, linear for mite, bell-shaped for cat). Exposure to a high level of cat allergen may result in a modified Th2 response characterized by the presence of IgG4 antibody to cat proteins without IgE response, which could be regarded as a form of tolerance. The long-term prospective follow-up of well-defined cohorts with objective exposure and outcome measures will elucidate the complex relationship between environmental allergen exposures, sensitization, and asthma.