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Keywords:

  • flow cytometry;
  • CD63;
  • immunotherapy;
  • hymenoptera venom

Abstract

Background:

Correct identification of the culprit venom is a prerequisite for specific venom immunotherapy (VIT). Despite the efficacy of VIT, issues as how to monitor treatment and when to discontinue maintenance therapy remain to be established.

Methods:

To evaluate diagnostic performances of the basophil activation test (BAT) in wasp venom allergy, 80 patients with a definite history of wasp venom anaphylaxis (systemic reactors) and 14 wasp-stung asymptomatic controls (stung controls) were enrolled. Venom-induced basophil activation was analyzed flow cytometrically by double-labeling with anti-IgE and anti-CD63. Results were compared to wasp IgE levels and results of a venom skin test (VST). To establish whether the BAT constitutes a candidate marker to monitor VIT, the BAT was repeated in 22 patients on the 5th day of a build-up course and after 6 months of maintenance VIT. Whether the BAT could contribute in the decision of discontinuing VIT was assessed in a cross-sectional analysis in 30 patients receiving treatment for 3 years.

Results:

Comparison between systemic reactors and stung controls revealed a sensitivity of 86.4% and specificity of 100% for venom IgE, and sensitivity of 81.8% for VST, respectively. In contrast to stung controls, patients demonstrated dose-dependent venom-induced basophil activation. The BAT attained a sensitivity of 83.8% and specificity of 100%. At the end of the build-up course, no effect of VIT on the BAT was demonstrable. When the BAT was repeated after 6 months of treatment, submaximal stimulation of the cells demonstrated a significant decreased CD63 expression (P < 0.04). Patients having VIT for 3 years also demonstrated significantly lower venom-induced CD63 expression (P < 0.001). After 3 years, 60% of the patients had a negative BAT for submaximal stimulation of the cells whereas only 17.9% of the patients had negativation of wasp IgE.

Conclusions:

The BAT is a reliable instrument for the diagnosis of wasp venom anaphylaxis and might constitute an instrument to monitor wasp VIT. © 2006 International Society for Analytical Cytology