Allergy historical perspective

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

Overview

Allergy, as a concept, was first defined in the early 1900s. It has later developed into several different disease mechanisms related to disordered activation of immune system. The overall study of allergy, as a concept, drastically evolved in the 1960s with the discovery of immunoglobulin E (IgE) - Kimishige Ishizaka.

Historical Perspective

The concept "allergy" was originally introduced in 1906 by the Viennese pediatrician Clemens von Pirquet, after noting that some of his patients were hypersensitive to normally innocuous entities such as dust, pollen, or certain foods. Pirquet called this phenomenon "allergy" from the Greek words allos meaning "other" and ergon meaning "work".[1] Historically, all forms of hypersensitivity were classified as allergies, and all were thought to be caused by an improper activation of the immune system. Later, it became clear that several different disease mechanisms were implicated, with the common link to a disordered activation of the immune system. In 1963, a new classification scheme was designed by Philip Gell and Robin Coombs that described four types of hypersensitivity reactions, known as Type I to Type IV hypersensitivity.[2] With this new classification, the word "allergy" was restricted to only type I hypersensitivities (also called immediate hypersensitivity), which are characterized as rapidly developing reactions.

A major breakthrough in understanding the mechanisms of allergy was the discovery of the antibody class labeled immunoglobulin E (IgE) - Kimishige Ishizaka and co-workers were the first to isolate and describe IgE in the 1960s.[3]

References

  1. Von Pirquet C (1906). "Allergie". Munch Med Wochenschr. 53: 1457.
  2. Gell PGH, Coombs RRA. (1963). Clinical Aspects of Immunology. London: Blackwell.
  3. Ishizaka K, Ishizaka T, Hornbrook MM (1966). "Physico-chemical properties of human reaginic antibody. IV. Presence of a unique immunoglobulin as a carrier of reaginic activity". J. Immunol. 97 (1): 75–85. PMID 4162440.



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