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Ultra rush bee venom immunotherapy does not reduce cutaneous weal responses to bee venom and codeine phosphate


Dr U. R. Müller, Medical Division, Zieglerspital, CH-3007 Bern, Switzerland.


Background rapid administration of bee venom in cumulative doses exceeding the quantity contained in one bee sting is well tolerated by most of the patients during 3.5 h of ultra-rush bee venom immunotherapy (VIT). The mechanism of this tolerance is unknown.

Objective The aim of the study was to verify the hypothesis that either slow mediator depletion of mast cells or blockade of their surface receptor mechanisms by increasing doses of allergen might be the major mechanisms of tolerance induced by ultra-rush VIT.

Methods Nine bee venom allergic patients with a history of severe systemic reactions after a bee sting, positive skin tests and bee venom specific serum IgE antibodies were treated as follows: on the first day a cumulative dose of 111 μg was administered over 3.5 h under intensive care conditions. Further injections were given on day 7, day 21 and thereafter at 4 week intervals, Intradermal tests with codeine phosphate (nonspecific mast cell degranulation) and bee venom were performed before the initiation of VIT and 30 min after the last injection on the same day as well as before the subsequent bee venom injections.

Results No significant changes of skin reactivity to both codeine phosphate and bee venom were observed on day I (before initiation of VIT and after the last injection on the same day).

Conclusions Ultra-rush VIT does not induce mediator depletion or surface receptor blockade in skin mast cells.

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