Background: Numerous studies have suggested that both genetic and environmental influences are involved in the pathogenesis of allergic disease and atopy. The objective of this investigation is to elucidate the underlying mechanism of penicillins allergy and improve the diagnostic methods.
Methods: Radioallergosorbent test was used to examine eight kinds of specific IgE antibodies, which included four kinds of major and minor antigenic determinants, respectively, in the sera of 448 patients with penicillins allergy and 101 healthy subjects. A restriction endonuclease fragment length polymorphism of a polymerase chain reaction product was used for analysis of the FcɛRIβ polymorphism.
Results: The positive rate of specific IgE in 448 patients was 58.26% (261), in which 37.28% (167) patients had positive IgE to major antigenic determinants and 47.09% (211) patients had positive IgE to minor antigenic determinants. Of the 179 patients with allergic history, 70.83% (17/24) patients had positive antibodies within 30 days, while 45.28% (24/53) had positive antibodies after 5 years. The positive reaction degree of skin test was absolutely correlated with specific IgE (P = 0.047). Among patients with positive specific IgE, significant differences of E237G genotype were observed between patients with positive benzylpenicillanyl (BPA)-, phenoxomethylpenicilloyl (PVO)- or ampicilloyl (APO)-IgE and control group (P = 0.015, 0.015, and 0.008, respectively). There were significant differences in E237G genotype between positive and negative BPA-, PVO- as well as APO-IgE patients (P = 0.014, 0.02, and 0.011, respectively).
Conclusions: The patients with penicillins allergy have positive specific IgE not only to major antigenic determinants but also to minor antigenic determinants. The E237G variant of the FcɛRIβ gene is involved in the development of penicillins allergy through the process for the production of specific IgE antibodies.