Cellular tests in the diagnosis of drug hypersensitivity

María L Sanz, Pedro M Gamboa, A L De Weck
Current Pharmaceutical Design 2008, 14 (27): 2803-8
The application of flowcytometry in the study of basophil activation for the diagnosis of allergic diseases has given interesting results in recent years. The quantification of basophil activation by flowcytometry has been proven to be a useful tool for the assessment of the immediate-type response to allergens mediated by IgE or by other mechanisms in drug allergic patients. Up to now, most basophil activation test studies reported in the literature have used CD69 or CD203c as markers to quantify basophil activation after antigen-specific stimulation. Some technical variations such as the use of whole blood or isolated leukocytes, the addition of IL-3, the conditions of storage of the blood sample, the time of incubation with allergens and their concentration can affect the results of the basophil activation tests. The basophil activation test is more sensitive and specific than other in vitro diagnostic techniques in drug allergy. In various studies, its sensitivity in allergy to muscle relaxant drugs ranges between 36 and 97.7%, with a specificity around 95%. For betalactam antibiotics, basophil activation test sensitivity is 50% and its specificity 90%. For NSAIDs, sensitivity varies between 66% and 75%; specificity is about 93%. Basophil activation test reproduces in vitro hypersensitivity mechanisms involved in immediate-type allergic reactions, allows the diagnosis of allergic and pseudo-allergic reactions particularly for drugs, which are often not detectable by serological techniques, such as determination of specific IgE.

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