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Keywords:

  • atopic eczema;
  • histamine;
  • leukotriene;
  • Staphylococcus aureus;
  • superantigen

Background Chronic skin colonization with Staphylococcus aureus is a characteristic feature of atopic eczema (AE), and about 60% of S. aureus strains isolated from the skin of patients with AE secrete enterotoxins. Furthermore, IgE antibodies to S. aureus enterotoxins have been identified in 78% of patients with AE.

Objectives To examine the S. aureus enterotoxin-induced histamine and leukotriene release of basophils from patients with AE.

Methods Peripheral blood basophils from patients with AE were stimulated with the staphylococcal enterotoxins A, B, D, E and toxic shock syndrome toxin-1. Additionally, priming experiments were performed with interleukin (IL)-3, IL-8 and granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor followed by stimulation with S. aureus enterotoxins.

Results In patients with AE, basophils secreted significantly higher amounts of histamine and leukotriene C4 (LTC4) than in healthy controls. The priming experiments showed additional histamine and LTC4 release in the group of AE patients.

Conclusions Histamine and leukotriene generation from atopic basophils stimulated with staphylococcal enterotoxins may indicate a role for these toxins as possible allergens in at least a subgroup of patients with AE.