Allergo Journal

, Volume 28, Issue 6, pp 52–63 | Cite as

Update of reference values for IgG antibodies against typical antigens of hypersensitivity pneumonitis

Data of a German multicentre study
  • Monika RaulfEmail author
  • Marcus Joest
  • Ingrid Sander
  • Frank Hoffmeyer
  • Dennis Nowak
  • Uta Ochmann
  • Alexandra Preisser
  • Jens Schreiber
  • Joachim Sennekamp
  • Dirk Koschel



Specific (s)IgG antibodies against environmental and occupational antigens, especially from bacteria, moulds, yeasts, birds and chemicals play an important role for hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP). An increased serum level of sIgG is one criterion in the diagnostic procedure of HP and crucial for the detection of the triggering antigen for successful avoidance of further exposure. In contrast to specific IgE, sIgG concentrations in healthy individuals vary greatly depending on the antigen, which makes it difficult to differentiate from patients with HP. The aim of this study is to update or establish sIgG-reference values for important HP antigens in a healthy blood donor group.


Therefore a study including six clinical centres in Germany was conducted to collect sera from 121 subjects without any signs of HP and without obvious exposure to potential HP antigens. Specific IgG to 32 typical HP antigens were quantified by ImmunoCAP (ThermoFisher Scientific; Phadia, Uppsala, Sweden). For validation selected measurements were repeated, total IgG was determined, sera were tested for unspecific binding with the human serum albumin ImmunoCAP Ro401, and influence of potential confounders was analysed. Statistical distribution of the antigen-specific IgG values was evaluated and the nonparametric method of percentile calculation was applied.


The levels of IgG antibodies to the different antigens varied considerably in the study group from < 0.02 to 726 mgA/L. Low sIgG levels were found against the chemicals and the highest levels to fungal antigens, especially to Aspergillus fumigatus and Botrytis cinerea. For three isocyanates, three acid anhydrides, Trichosporon pullulans and Acremonium kiliense reference values were proposed for the first time. For several avian antigens, moulds, and bacteria pre-existing reference values nearly could be confirmed without significant deviations, but already the 90 % quantile for sIgG against Penicillium chrysogenum, Aspergillus fumigatus and pigeon antigen (Ge91) clearly exceeded the pre-existing values. In contrast, the 97.5 % quantile value for Candida albicans was nearly half of the pre-existing cut-off value.


In most cases specific IgG values were not significantly influenced by smoking and gender and most of them were unaffected by age. For implementation of these sIgG reference values into the routine diagnosis of HP, we provide an online available calculator to rank measured sIgG concentrations to the 32 different ImmunoCAP antigens.


antigen specific IgG diagnosis hypersensitivity pneumonitis reference values extrinsic allergic alveolitis 



Coefficient of variation


Extrinsic allergic alveolitis


Fluorescent enzyme immunoassay


Human serum albumin


Hypersensitivity pneumonitis


Maltose-binding protein


Milligrams of antigen-specific IgG per liter


Standard deviation


Specific immunoglobulin G



The authors are thankful for the support of ThermoFisher Scientific, who had provided ImmunoCAPs/reagents free of charge. Neither the design of the study nor the evaluation of the data were influenced by ThermoFisher Scientific. We thank C. Bittner, Hamburg, for help in collecting the samples, B. Kendzia, Bochum, for statistical support and U. Meurer, Bochum, for skilful technical assistance.

Ethical approval

The study design and the protocol were reviewed and approved by the ethical committee of the Technische Universität Dresden (EK 195052014) in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki and ethical approval was obtained from the local ethic committee of each centre.


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Copyright information

© Springer Medizin Verlag GmbH, ein Teil von Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Monika Raulf
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marcus Joest
    • 2
  • Ingrid Sander
    • 1
  • Frank Hoffmeyer
    • 1
  • Dennis Nowak
    • 3
  • Uta Ochmann
    • 3
  • Alexandra Preisser
    • 4
  • Jens Schreiber
    • 5
  • Joachim Sennekamp
    • 2
  • Dirk Koschel
    • 6
    • 7
  1. 1.Institut für Prävention und Arbeitsmedizin der Deutschen Gesetzlichen UnfallversicherungInstitut der Ruhr-Universität Bochum (IPA)BochumGermany
  2. 2.Malteser Lung- und Allergy Centre BonnBonnGermany
  3. 3.Institute and Outpatient Clinic for OccupationalSocial and Environmental Medicine University Hospital (LMU), Comprehensive Pneumology Center Munich (CPC-M), Member DZL, German Center for Lung ResearchMunichGermany
  4. 4.Institute for Occupational and Maritime MedicineUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany
  5. 5.University Clinic of PneumologyMagdeburgGermany
  6. 6.Department of Pulmonary Diseases, Fachkrankenhaus CoswigCentre for Pulmonary Diseases and Thoracic SurgeryCoswigGermany
  7. 7.Division of Pulmonology, Medical Department IUniversity Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Technische Universität DresdenDresdenGermany

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