IgE ELISA using antisera derived from epsilon chain antigenic peptides detects allergen-specific IgE in allergic horses

Warren V. Kalina, Howard D. Pettigrew, Laurel J Gershwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Equine disease with an allergic etiology is common. Environmental antigens most often implicated as allergens in horses include molds, dusty hay, grass pollen, hay dust mites, and insect saliva. Although intradermal testing with allergen is a useful diagnostic tool for some species, skin testing frequently produces false positive results in horses. Allergen deprivation as a diagnostic tool is often impossible and at best it is ineffective at diagnosing the specific allergic reactivity. Synthesis of IgE after exposure to allergen is the instigator of the allergic process. While IgE exerts its effect after binding strongly to mast cell Fc receptors, the presence of free IgE in the serum can be used to quantify and determine the allergen specificity of the allergic disease. A lack of widely available reagents for detection of equine IgE has limited this approach in horses. We have used the nucleotide sequence of equine IgE to prepare a peptide-based immunogen to elicit equine epsilon chain-specific antisera. Selection of peptides was based on antigenic attributes of the deduced amino acid sequence of the equine epsilon chain. Six peptides were selected for conjugation to carrier molecules and rabbit immunization. Of these, one peptide elicited antisera that was successfully used in enzyme linked immunosorbant assay (ELISA) to screen horse serum from 64 allergic horses for allergen-specific IgE. Twenty-four of the 64 horses showed positive reactivity to one or more of the following allergens: grass, grain mill dust, mosquito, and horsefly. This study demonstrates the usefulness of peptide-based immunogens for development of antisera to rare or difficult to purify antigens such as IgE. Resultant antisera has great usefulness in diagnostic assays for equine allergy and as a research tool.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-147
Number of pages11
JournalVeterinary Immunology and Immunopathology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - May 12 2003


  • Allergen
  • Equine
  • IgE
  • Peptide-based immunization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Immunology
  • veterinary(all)


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