Objectives To compare the clinical presentation of systemic anaphylaxis to Hymenoptera and Diptera with regard to basal serum tryptase (BT) and to evaluate mastocytosis in patients with elevated tryptase.
Patients and Methods The medical records of 140 patients with a history of a systemic reaction to venom were retrospectively reviewed. Symptoms and severity of anaphylaxis and BT were recorded. Most patients with elevated tryptase were screened for mastocytosis: a dermatological examination with a skin biopsy was performed in 19 cases and a bone marrow biopsy in 14 cases.
Results Tryptase was elevated in 23 patients. These patients reported fewer usual skin reactions (urticaria in 26.1% of cases with raised tryptase vs. 76.1% of cases with normal tryptase), more flushing (52.2% vs. 4.3%) and frequently did not present skin reaction (26.1% vs. 9.4%). They presented a more severe reaction (mean grade of severity: 3.48 vs. 2.69). Mastocytosis was diagnosed in seven patients with elevated tryptase: indolent systemic mastocytosis in six cases and cutaneous mastocytosis without systemic involvement in one case. In five cases, mastocytosis was previously undiagnosed. Lesions of cutaneous mastocytosis, diagnosed in five patients, consisted of urticaria pigmentosa in all cases and were often inconspicuous.
Conclusion These results demonstrate particular clinical features of the allergic reaction in patients with elevated BT and the higher frequency of mastocytosis in this population. In patients with a severe anaphylactic reaction without urticaria, but with flushing, tryptase should be assayed and an underlying mastocytosis should be considered.