About the role and underlying mechanisms of cofactors in anaphylaxis


  • Edited by: Thomas Bieber


Tilo Biedermann, Department of Dermatology, Eberhard Karls University, Liebermeisterstrasse 25, 72076 Tübingen, Germany.

Tel.: +49-7071-29-80836

Fax: +49-7071-29-7463-4117

E-mail: tilo.biedermann@med.uni-tuebingen.de


Anaphylaxis is the systemic and most severe presentation of type I allergy. A number of conditions were identified that modulate the onset of anaphylaxis such as co- or augmentation factors, which significantly lower the allergen dose necessary for triggering anaphylaxis. Next to physical exercise or alcohol consumption, co-administration of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) or concomitant infectious diseases are well-documented cofactors of anaphylaxis. Registries for anaphylaxis document a role for cofactors in about 30% of anaphylactic reactions. Some disease entities such as ‘wheat-dependent exercise-induced anaphylaxis’ (WDEIA) are explicitly characterized by elicitation of anaphylaxis only in the presence of at least one such cofactor. Using WDEIA as a model disease, studies demonstrated that exercise increases skin prick test reactivity to and bioavailability of the allergen. Additional data indicate that alcohol consumption and NSAID administration display similar effects. Modulation of the cellular activation threshold is another mechanism underlying cofactor-induced anaphylaxis, most likely also functional when infectious diseases orchestrate elicitation of anaphylaxis. Cofactors are increasingly accepted to play a fundamental role in eliciting anaphylaxis. Consequently, to improve patient management modalities, a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms is warranted. This review aims to update clinicians and clinical scientists on recent developments.