Background: The association between staphylococcal enterotoxins and atopic dermatitis (AD) is well characterized. We aim to evaluate the association between sensitization to staphylococcal enterotoxin A (SEA) and/or B (SEB) and the development of allergic airway disease. Methods: Two hundred and seventy-four patients were grouped into allergic rhinitis (AR) and/or bronchial asthma (BA) only, AD only and AR/BA+AD. The AR/BA only group was further divided into AR only, AR and airway hyperresponsiveness (AR+AHR) and BA. The allergen-specific and total immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies were determined by the CAP system. The associations of sensitization to SEA/SEB with allergic airway disease were analyzed by logistic regression analysis. Results: The overall rate of sensitization to SEA/SEB was 25.7%, whereas the rate of the AD only group (45.5%) was significantly higher than that of the AR/BA only group (24.5%, χ2 = 8.1). After sensitization to SEA/SEB, the geometric mean total IgE levels were significantly elevated in patients with AR+AHR and BA, but not in those with AR only. BA patients had higher geometric mean values of SEA- and SEB-specific IgE than AR only and AR+AHR patients. Logistic regression revealed that AR/BA only was more associated with sensitization to SEA/SEB (odds ratio 6.57) than AD only and AR/BA+AD (odds ratio 2.44 and 1.72). Conclusions: Atopic status after sensitization to SEA/SEB was more closely associated with BA than with other airway allergy, implying that SEA/SEB may play a role in exacerbating airway allergy and increasing the risk of allergic airway disease. Our study suggests that staphylococcal enterotoxins play a prominent role in the pathogenesis of allergic airway disease as well as AD.

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