Mastocytosis and insect venom allergy: diagnosis, safety and efficacy of venom immunotherapy


Marek Niedoszytko
Department of Allergology
Medical University of Gdansk
Debinki 7 80-952 Gdansk


The most important causative factor for anaphylaxis in mastocytosis are insect stings. The purpose of this review is to analyse the available data concerning prevalence, diagnosis, safety and effectiveness of venom immunotherapy (VIT) in mastocytosis patients. If data were unclear, authors were contacted personally for further information. Quality of evidence (A: high, B: moderate, C: low and D: very low) and strength of recommendation (strong 1 and weak 2) concerning VIT in mastocytosis patients are assessed according to the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation and are marked in square brackets. Results of VIT were described in 117 patients to date. The mean rate of side-effects during treatment in studies published so far is 23.9% (7.6% requiring adrenaline) with an overall protection rate of 72%. Based on the review we conclude that (1) mastocytosis patients have a high risk of severe sting reactions in particular to yellow jacket, (2) VIT could be suggested [2] in mastocytosis, (3) probably should be done life long [2], (4) VIT in mastocytosis is accompanied by a higher frequency of side-effects, so (5) special precautions should be taken into account notably during the built up phase of the therapy [2], (6) VIT is able to reduce systemic reactions, but to a lesser extent compared to the general insect venom allergic population [2], so (7) patients should be warned that the efficacy of VIT might be less than optimal and they should continue carrying two adrenaline auto injectors [2].