Immunoglobulin subclass levels in patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
ABSTRACT Allergy/atopy has been suggested to protect against non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and specific IgE levels are decreased in patients with NHL. We speculated that all immunoglobulin subclass levels might be downregulated in NHL and examined levels of IgM, IgD, IgA, IgE, IgG and IgG(4) in 200 NHL patients and 200 age- and sex-matched controls. Patients with B-cell NHL of many types had consistently lower median immunoglobulin subclass levels than controls. In every subclass except IgD, about 10-15% of B-cell NHL patients had absolute levels below the 2.5 percentile of controls. Subclass levels correlated with each other and many patients had more than one significantly low level. Levels were lowest for IgG(4) and IgE. Patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma had especially low total IgE levels. In other B-cell NHL types, total IgE levels were decreased to a similar extent as other immunoglobulin subclasses. In conclusion, low IgE levels are only part of a more generalized loss of immunoglobulins of all subtypes in a wide variety of B-cell NHL types. Low immunoglobulin levels appear to be a consequence of B-cell NHL presence, and we speculate about molecular mechanisms that could reduce all immunoglobulin subclasses in B-cell NHL.