ImmunoCAP assays: Pros and cons in allergology
Allergen-specific IgE measurements and the clinical history are the cornerstones of allergy diagnosis. During the past decades, both characterization and standardization of allergen extracts and assay technology have improved. Here we discuss the uses, advantages, misinterpretations, and limitations of ImmunoCAP IgE assays (Thermo Fisher Scientific/Phadia, Uppsala, Sweden) in the field of allergology. They can be performed as singleplex (ImmunoCAP) and, for the last decade, as multiplex (Immuno Solid-phase Allergen Chip [ISAC]). The major benefit of ImmunoCAP is the obtained quantified allergen-specific IgE antibody level and the lack of interference from allergen-specific IgG antibodies. However, ImmunoCAP allergen extracts are limited to the composition of the extract. The introduction of allergen molecules has had a major effect on analytic specificity and allergy diagnosis. They are used in both singleplex ImmunoCAP and multiplex ImmunoCAP ISAC assays. The major advantage of ISAC is the comprehensive IgE pattern obtained with a minute amount of serum. The shortcomings are its semiquantitative measurements, lower linear range, and cost per assay. With respect to assay performance, ImmunoCAP allergen extracts are good screening tools, but allergen molecules dissect the IgE response on a molecular level and put allergy research on the map of precision medicine.