Toxocara Infection Seroprevalence and Its Relationship with Atopic Features in a General Adult PopulationGonzalez-Quintela A. · Gude F. · Campos J. · Garea M.T. · Romero P.A. · Rey J. · Meijide L.M. · Fernandez-Merino M.C. · Vidal C.
Departments of aInternal Medicine, bClinical Epidemiology, cMicrobiology and dAllergy, Complejo Hospitalario Universitario de Santiago, Santiago de Compostela, and eFamily Medicine, Primary Care Unit, A Estrada, Spain
Background: The relationship of helminth infection with atopy is controversial. Toxocariasis is the most common helminth infection in industrialized countries. The study aimed to investigate the association between Toxocara exposure and atopic features. Methods: The study is based on a cross-sectional survey of 463 subjects, randomly selected (stratified by decades of age) from a general adult population. Toxocara exposure was defined by the presence of serum Toxocara antibodies. Main outcome measures included total serum IgE levels, skin prick tests (SPT) to a panel of 13 relevant aeroallergens, specific IgE to aeroallergens (Phadiatop test), and respiratory symptoms evaluated by means of a questionnaire. Results: A total of 134 subjects (weighted proportion 28.6%, 95% CI 26.5–30.7%) showed Toxocara exposure. Pet ownership, rural habitat, farming, and low educational level were associated with Toxocara exposure. Toxocara exposure was associated with both positive SPT (particularly to mites) and positive specific IgE (Phadiatop test) after adjusting for potential confounders. The effect of Toxocara exposure on total serum IgE levels and blood eosinophil count was different in SPT-positive subjects and SPT-negative individuals. In SPT-negative individuals, Toxocara exposure was associated with an increase in both serum IgE levels and eosinophil counts, whereas an opposite trend was observed in SPT-positive individuals. Toxocara exposure was not associated with respiratory symptoms. Conclusions: In this adult population, Toxocara exposure is associated with allergic sensitization, particularly to mites. There is evidence of an intriguing interaction between Toxocara exposure and allergic sensitization for both total serum IgE levels and blood eosinophil counts.
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