Testing for IgG4 against foods is not recommended as a diagnostic tool
Allergy. 2008 Jul;63(7):793-6. Epub 2008 May 16.
Testing for IgG4 against foods is not recommended as a diagnostic tool: EAACI Task Force Report.
Sanquin Diagnostic Services, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Serological tests for immunoglobulin G4 (IgG4) against foods are persistently promoted for the diagnosis of food-induced hypersensitivity. Since many patients believe that their symptoms are related to food ingestion without diagnostic confirmation of a causal relationship, tests for food-specific IgG4 represent a growing market. Testing for blood IgG4 against different foods is performed with large-scale screening for hundreds of food items by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay-type and radioallergosorbent-type assays in young children, adolescents and adults. However, many serum samples show positive IgG4 results without corresponding clinical symptoms. These findings, combined with the lack of convincing evidence for histamine-releasing properties of IgG4 in humans, and lack of any controlled studies on the diagnostic value of IgG4 testing in food allergy, do not provide any basis for the hypothesis that food-specific IgG4 should be attributed with an effector role in food hypersensitivity. In contrast to the disputed beliefs, IgG4 against foods indicates that the organism has been repeatedly exposed to food components, recognized as foreign proteins by the immune system. Its presence should not be considered as a factor which induces hypersensitivity, but rather as an indicator for immunological tolerance, linked to the activity of regulatory T cells. In conclusion, food-specific IgG4 does not indicate (imminent) food allergy or intolerance, but rather a physiological response of the immune system after exposition to food components. Therefore, testing of IgG4 to foods is considered as irrelevant for the laboratory work-up of food allergy or intolerance and should not be performed in case of food-related complaints.
Clin Exp Allergy. 1998 Dec;28(12):1526-9.
Unreliability of IgE/IgG4 antibody testing as a diagnostic tool in food intolerance.
Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital NHS Trust and Research Council for Complementary Medicine, UK.
BACKGROUND: Some clinicians link chronic disease in certain patients to ‘food intolerance’. This is currently diagnosed by exclusion dieting, a time-consuming and tedious technique. It has been claimed that IgE/IgG4 antibody testing is a rapid and valid method of determining food intolerance. OBJECTIVE: To determine the test/retest reliability of IgE/IgG4 antibody testing as a diagnostic tool. METHODS: Blinded testing of duplicate blood samples from nine patients with suspected food intolerance was undertaken by tertiary referral centre using the services of a commercial laboratory. The proportions of consistent and inconsistent results for tests of 95 different foods were analysed. RESULTS: Test/retest reliability was low. Even though the study method systematically overestimated kappa, this value never exceeded 0.51, regardless of the statistical model used. All but one patient had a greater number of inconsistent results than had been prespecified as an unacceptable level of disagreement. In one case, 50 out of 95 test results were inconsistent on retest. CONCLUSIONS: We found no evidence that IgE/IgG4 antibody testing as performed by this laboratory is a reliable diagnostic tool.
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