Standard skin prick testing and sensitization to inhalant allergens across Europe—a survey from the GALEN network

L Heinzerling, A J Frew, C Bindslev-Jensen, S Bonini, J Bousquet, M Bresciani, K-H Carlsen, P van Cauwenberge, U Darsow, W J Fokkens, T Haahtela, H van Hoecke, B Jessberger, M L Kowalski, T Kopp, C N Lahoz, K C Lodrup Carlsen, N G Papadopoulos, J Ring, P Schmid-Grendelmeier, A M Vignola, S Wöhrl, T Zuberbier
Allergy 2005, 60 (10): 1287-300
Skin prick testing (SPT) is the standard method for diagnosing allergic sensitization but is to some extent performed differently in clinical centres across Europe. There would be advantages in harmonizing the standard panels of allergens used in different European countries, both for clinical purposes and for research, especially with increasing mobility within Europe and current trends in botany and agriculture. As well as improving diagnostic accuracy, this would allow better comparison of research findings in European allergy centres. We have compared the different SPT procedures operating in 29 allergy centres within the Global Allergy and Asthma European Network (GA(2)LEN). Standard SPT is performed similarly in all centres, e.g. using commercial extracts, evaluation after 15-20 min exposure with positive results defined as a wheal >3 mm diameter. The perennial allergens included in the standard SPT panel of inhalant allergens are largely similar (e.g. cat: pricked in all centres; dog: 26 of 29 centres and Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus: 28 of 29 centres) but the choice of pollen allergens vary considerably, reflecting different exposure and sensitization rates for regional inhalant allergens. This overview may serve as reference for the practising doctor and suggests a GA(2)LEN Pan-European core SPT panel.

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