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In vitro diagnosis of T cell-mediated drug allergy


Werner J. Pichler, Department of Rheumatology, Clinical Immunology and Allergology, University Bern, Inselspital, CH-3010 Bern, Switzerland.


Cite this as: G. Porebski, A. Gschwend-Zawodniak and W. J. Pichler, Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 2011 (41) 461–470.


Diagnosis of drug hypersensitivity relies on history, skin tests, in vitro tests and provocation tests. In vitro tests are of great interest, due to possible reduction of drug provocation tests. In this review we focus on best investigated in vitro techniques for the diagnosis of T cell-mediated drug hypersensitivity reactions. As drug hypersensitivity relies on different pathomechanisms and as a single diagnostic test usually does not cover all possible reactions, it is advisable to combine different tests to increase the overall sensitivity. Recently, proliferation-based assays have been supplemented by a panel of novel in vitro tests including analysis of cytotoxic potential of effector cells (granzyme B, granulysin, CD107a), evaluation of cytokine secretion (IL-2, IL-5, IL-13, and IFN-γ) and up-regulation of cell surface activation markers (CD69). We discuss the latest findings and readout systems to identify causative drugs by detecting functional and phenotypic markers of drug-reacting cells, and their ability to enable a more conclusive diagnosis of drug allergy.

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