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Cetirizine inhibits bradykinin-induced cutaneous wheal and flare in atopic and healthy subjects


Jean-Pierre Rihoux, MD
UCB SA Pharma Sector
Chemin du Foriest
B-1420 Braine-l'Alleud


Background: Kinins are vasoactive mediators involved in allergic reactions. When applied on the skin or in the nose, bradykinin (BK) elicits inflammation that is poorly affected by previous H1-blockade. The aim of this study was to compare the possible effect of cetirizine (an H1-antagonist) on wheal and flare responses to BK, histamine, and compound 48/80 in atopic and healthy subjects.

Methods: In a randomized, double-blind, crossover study, eight atopic and eight healthy subjects received cetirizine (10 mg/day) or placebo for 3 days before cutaneous tests. Intradermal tests (IDT) and prick tests (PT) were performed with BK (20 nmol/ml for IDT and 20 μmol/ml for PT), histamine (100 μg/ml IDT and 100 mg/ml PT), and compound 48/80 (100 μg/ml IDT and 100 mg/ml PT) as positive controls and saline as negative control. The skin responses were monitored by measurement of wheal and flare areas.

Results: BK, histamine, and 48/80 induced wheal and flare reactions in all placebo-treated subjects. Histamine elicited larger wheal and flare reactions than BK and 48/80. IDT with BK induced four- to sixfold larger wheal and flare reaction than PT. No differences in BK-induced wheal and flare were observed between atopic and healthy subjects. In atopic subjects, cetirizine induced a significant reduction of flare reactions after the BK test (80% for IDT, and 94% for PT [P<0.01]). Moreover, cetirizine reduced significantly BK-induced wheals by 70% for IDT (P<0.01) and 65% for PT (P<0.01). A similar inhibiting effect of cetirizine was also observed in healthy subjects.

Conclusions: These findings showed that the wheal and flare reactions induced by BK challenge were markedly inhibited by previous intake of cetirizine. The mechanism by which this effect is mediated cannot be established at present.