Subjects with borderline elevated IgE levels less likely to develop glioma

September 18, 2017

"This is really the first study to look at total IgE levels collected prior to disease," Michaud said. "This is important in being able to determine whether this is a causal effect."

Although the pool of patients in the four studies was large, the actual number of relevant cases was small. Only 169 people with stored plasma subsequently developed brain tumors. They were matched with 520 control subjects (otherwise similar people who did not develop tumors). The small numbers blunted some of the study's results.

For example, the researchers found a statistically significant reduction in glioma risk among people with borderline elevated IgE levels (in a range of 25,000 to 100,000 units per liter), but not for people with even higher levels of IgE. Michaud acknowledged that further research would be needed to explain why the protective effect couldn't be measured in people with the highest IgE levels.

Ultimately, Michaud said, by strengthening the evidence that allergic immune response may affect brain tumors, the study may encourage cancer researchers to focus on the biological mechanisms underlying this association and provide insight into the disease and its treatment.

Source: Brown University