Serum concentration of baseline mast cell tryptase: evidence for a decline during long-term immunotherapy for Hymenoptera venom allergy


Priv.-Doz. Dr. Franziska Ruëff, Klinik und Poliklinik für Dermatologie und Allergologie, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Frauenlobstraße 9-11, 80337 München, Germany.


Background Baseline serum mast cell tryptase concentration (BTC) is thought to reflect the constitutive mast cell load or activity of an individual patient. Little is known about the individual stability of BTC during long-term venom immunotherapy (VIT).

Objective To investigate the intra-individual stability of BTC over time in patients with Hymenoptera venom allergy.

Methods Three hundred and two patients were studied. BTC was measured before and at least twice during VIT. At least 4 weeks lay between BTC measurements and the most recent field sting, in-hospital sting, or preceding venom injection. Multifactorial mixed linear models were used to analyse BTC changes over time.

Results Median observation time was 4.2 years (range 2–12 years). Before VIT, the median BTC was 6.8 μg/L (range 1.14–177 μg/L). The median coefficient of variation (CV) over time was 15.3% (range 1.9–63.8%). The median CV was significantly smaller in patients presenting with an elevated BTC (>11.4 μg/L) than in patients with a normal BTC (11.4%, range 2.6–39.5%; vs. 17.6%, range 1.9– 63.8%; P<0.001). During VIT and after adjusting for age and gender, we found a slight but significant decrease of BTC over time (2.5% per year, 95% confidence interval 2.0–3.0%, P<0.001).

Conclusion Individual variation of BTC during VIT does not rise when BTC is increased before therapy. VIT is associated with a small, but continuous decrease of BTC over time possibly indicating a dampened mast cell function or a decline in mast cell burden.

Cite this as: S. Dugas-Breit, B. Przybilla, M. Dugas, A. Arnold, G. Pfundstein, H. Küchenhoff and F. Ruëff, Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 2010 (40) 643–649.