METHODS: Total IgE and specific IgE to α-Gal (cut-off ≥0.1kU/L) were assayed on sera from 118 subjects who had symptoms suggestive of possible coronary heart disease and underwent coronary imaging with intravascular ultrasound (IVUS).
RESULTS: Of the cohort 26% had detectable titers of IgE to α-Gal. There were no significant differences in traditional risk factors such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes or cholesterol levels in sensitized and non-sensitized subjects. Atheroma burden was higher in the sensitized group. Focusing on subjects less than 65 years old (n=70) the association was stronger, and lesions in the sensitized group were more calcified and necrotic but less fibrous. Regression analysis accounting for age, diabetes, HTN and statin use supported a significant association between between α-Gal sensitization and atheroma burden (p=0.009).
CONCLUSIONS: α-Gal is an oligosaccharide that is present in mammalian foods, i.e – red meat and dairy, which are common in a Western diet and have been associated with coronary artery disease. IgE sensitization to α-Gal represents a novel, and potentially modifiable, risk factor for coronary atherosclerosis.