Antibodies of the IgE class combine with allergen to cause tissue damage in the immediate type of allergic hypersensitivity reaction, important in common forms of asthma and rhinitis.1 The serum of healthy subjects contains only very minute concentrations of IgE, which are difficult to measure. Total serum IgE levels as measured by the RadioImmunoSorbent Test (RIST) is often very high in parasitic infestation 2–4 by Bilharzia, Echinococcus and hookworm. In allergic asthma, hay fever and eczema total serum IgE levels may or may not be elevated.
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