The prevalence of IgG subclass deficiency in asthma is still controversial. Earlier studies often included patients receiving treatment with systemic steroids which can induce hypogammaglobulinaemia. Concentrations of IgG subclasses were studies in 200 children (aged 2-17 years) with asthma (mean asthma severity score (ASS) 2, range 1-4) who had not received systemic steroids for at least six weeks before investigation, and in 226 healthy age matched controls. The mean concentrations of IgG subclasses in children with asthma were within the 1SD range of those of the control group. In the group with asthma there was a trend towards higher levels of IgG1 and IgG4, whereas the number of children with low concentrations of IgG2 (< 2 SD of control serum samples; absolute concentrations 0.08-1.25 g/l) was slightly greater than in the group who did not have asthma (4.5 v 2.2%). Patients with subnormal concentrations of IgG2 could not be distinguished clinically or on the basis of case history and additional immunological studies did not show further abnormalities. Patients with severe asthma (ASS 3-4) had significantly higher concentrations of IgG4 (mean (SE) 0.53 (0.09) v 0.26 (0.04) g/l) than patients with mild asthma (ASS 1). No significant difference in subclass concentration was found between patients with atopic and those with non-atopic asthma. It is concluded that in an unselected group of children with asthma the mean IgG subclass concentrations do not differ significantly from a group of healthy age matched controls.
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