Monitoring non-immediate allergic reactions to iodine contrast media


M. Blanca, Allergy Service, Hospital Civil, Plaza Hospital Civil s/n, 29009 Malaga, Spain.


Non-immediate reactions to iodine contrast media (ICM) affect 2–5% of patients receiving these agents. We studied the immunological mechanisms involved in patients with a confirmed non-immediate reaction, maculopapular exanthema, after administration of ICM. The diagnosis was carried out by skin testing or drug provocation test. The immunological study was performed in sequential peripheral blood mononuclear cells taken from the onset of the reaction by flow cytometry and in skin biopsy by immunohistochemistry, with specific recognition by the lymphocyte transformation test (LTT) with different ICM. Flow cytometry showed an increase in the different activation markers [CD69, CD25 and human leucocyte antigen D-related (HLA-DR)] and the skin homing receptor [cutaneous lymphocyte-associated antigen (CLA)] in CD4 lymphocytes, whereas perforin was higher in the CD8 lymphocytes. The skin biopsy showed a perivascular mononuclear infiltrate composed of CD4 lymphocytes, expressing CD25, HLA-DR and CLA, with eosinophils. Intradermal skin tests and the LTT were positive to several ICM, including the culprit agent in four and three patients, respectively, with negative results in all 10 tolerant controls. We showed that a specific immunological mechanism was implicated in patients with non-immediate reactions to ICM. Moreover, the positive results in skin tests and lymphocyte proliferation tests indicated that an important cross-reactivity exists.