Objective: To investigate the relationship between tuberculin skin responses and the development of adult asthma, rhinitis, and atopy.
Methods: Two hundred fourteen patients with mild-to-moderate asthma accompanied with rhinitis and 220 normal volunteers underwent a medical history, chest radiography, allergen skin-prick testing (SPT), bovine Mycobacterium tuberculosis vaccine (BCG) scar identification, purified protein derivative (PPD) tuberculin skin testing, serum-total and serum-specific IgE measurements, and bronchial provocation (provocative dose of histamine causing a 20% fall in FEV1 [PD20]).
Results: Thirty-one normal volunteers (14.1%) and 168 asthma-rhinitis subjects (78.5%) had one or more positive skin test results (p < 0.0001). Neither the presence of a BCG scar nor a history of BCG vaccination had a significant effect on atopy in either group. The rate of PPD positivity had no statistical difference between atopy and nonatopy in both groups. In multivariate logistic regression analysis, the odds ratio for tuberculin reactivity was not related to the level of serum-total IgE nor to the level of serum-specific IgE to Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (DP) and Dermatophagoides farinae (DF), skin response to DP and DF, and PD20. Overall, no significant correlations were found between tuberculin skin reactivity and log serum-total IgE or PD20.
Conclusion: There is no relationship between history of tuberculosis infection, tuberculin responses, and development of adult bronchial asthma, allergic rhinitis, and atopy. Our study suggests that the protection provided by intradermal BCG vaccination in infants to prevent atopic diseases may be limited in early childhood, when a substantial memory of cellular immune modulation still exists.