Immunoglobulin E (IgE) is the key molecule in type I hypersensitivity reactions which are characterized by a Th2 immune response. However, Th2 responses are actually thought to have originally evolved to control extra-cellular parasites. Recently, another new but less-known role of IgE in tumor immune surveillance has been suggested by many epidemiological studies, as well as in vitro and in vivo studies. Clinical data from different populations describe an inverse association between elevated IgE levels, malignancy risk and survival from cancer. This brings up the next question: what happens with patients who are deficient in IgE—are they at higher risk of developing malignancy? Surprisingly, although disorders characterized by elevated IgE levels represented the focus of multiple basic and clinical research investigations, IgE deficiency (IgE<2.5 kU/L) has received relatively little study. This has happened in part because high IgE levels tend to be more dramatic and for most laboratories lower or absent serum IgE levels are usually reported to be within normal limits. During this talk we will discuss about the mechanisms through which IgE confers anti-tumor properties, describe what happens in terms of cancer risk in patients with IgE deficiency, and identify the next steps to be taken to understand how we can use this information in the clinical practice.
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