The hormones progesterone and estrogen might provoke allergic antibody reactions in some women, which might in turn help explain various menstrual disorders, according to a prospective study.
Dr. Russell R. Roby and colleagues from the Roby Institute in Austin, Tex., found increased reactions to both hormones, compared with women who served as controls, in patients with menstruation-related symptoms (Am. J. Reprod. Immunol. 2006;55:307–13).
“Our data presented in this paper are the first to show the presence of IgM and IgE against different steroid hormones,” the investigators wrote.
They noted that acne, asthma, epilepsy, allergic rhinitis, and several other disorders have been linked with menstrual cycle influences.
Their report “suggests the possibility of hormone allergy,” they wrote, citing earlier studies linking hormone reactions to endocrine disorders and periodic rashes.
The investigators sampled the blood of 270 patients from their clinic who reported a change in their menstrual symptoms over the course of 2 years and tested for IgM and IgG antibodies to progesterone.
They also obtained blood samples from 288 unaffected women from a commercial laboratory, to serve as a control group.
When blood was tested via enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, the test patients had a mean optical density (OD; a measure of antibody levels) of 0.17 for IgG and 0.32 for IgM, vs. a mean OD in the control population of 0.08 for IgG and 0.13 for IgM—a statistically significant difference in both cases.
The investigators also tested another group of 98 patients for IgE antibodies against both progesterone and estrogen, using a control group of 320 patients (the same 288 from a commercial laboratory plus 32 from their clinic with possible hormone allergy).
For progesterone, test patients had a mean OD of 0.42, vs. a mean OD of 0.11 in the remote control group and 0.23 in the clinic-based control group—a highly significant increase, the investigators noted.