IgE is an antibody directly involved in the allergic mechanism that provokes allergic asthma symptoms. IgE antibodies are produced by plasma cells and then circulate in the blood before attaching themselves to the surface of mast cells that line the respiratory mucosa.
The injection of an anti-IgE antibody will lower the circulating IgE antibodies. When circulating IgE is lowered, less of those allergy antibodies are available to bind to mast cells lining the airways. Under these circumstances, inhaled allergens are less likely to provoke an asthma attack because the specific IgE receptors for the allergen(s) will not be present on the surface of the mast cell in sufficient quantity to provoke a reaction. In contrast to immunotherapy, treatment with anti-IgE is aimed at removing any IgE antibodies circulating in the blood, not just IgE antibodies to specific allergens.
Omalizumab (Xolair®) is the first in a new class of medications specifically bioengineered to target IgE in the treatment of allergic disease and, in particular, asthma.
Xolair® is an injectable anti-IgE antibody recommended if you have moderate to severe allergic asthma and have not responded to comprehensive asthma treatment programs including inhaled corticosteroids. At this point, Xolair® is recommended if you are over 12 years of age. Studies are currently pending that may also approve this treatment for children less than 12 years of age. Xolair® has also been shown to be helpful for allergic rhinitis but is not approved by the FDA for this indication at this time.
How Xolair® Works
The Asthma Center's Clinical Experience with Xolair®
More Xolair® Details