Response to a selective COX-2 inhibitor in patients with urticaria/angioedema induced by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

I Doña, N Blanca-López, L R Jagemann, M J Torres, C Rondón, P Campo, A I Gómez, J Fernández, J J Laguna, A Rosado, M Blanca, G Canto
Allergy 2011, 66 (11): 1428-33

BACKGROUND: In subjects with hypersensitivity reactions with cross-intolerance to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), tolerance to selective COX-2 inhibitors has not been evaluated in large series of well-phenotyped cases.

METHODS: We evaluated 252 patients with urticaria and/or angioedema caused by hypersensitivity owing to cross-intolerance to NSAIDs. In addition to the clinical history, diagnosis was confirmed by provocation to an alternative NSAID. Two groups were considered: (A) patients with cross-intolerance to NSAIDs and intolerance to paracetamol and (B) patients with cross-intolerance to NSAIDs and good tolerance to paracetamol. Etoricoxib was administered to Group A patients and to a representative sample of Group B patients. In the event of a positive response, serum tryptase levels were determined and skin biopsy was performed in five patients in each group.

RESULTS: Ibuprofen was the most commonly implicated drug, followed by acetylsalicylic acid (ASA). Urticaria was the most common manifestation, followed by angioedema. Most of the patients developed symptoms within 1 h. Twenty-five percent in Group A (n = 47) and 6% in Group B (n = 50) were intolerant to etoricoxib. Skin biopsy showed mast cell activation with the release of tryptase to the extracellular space but without the increase in serum tryptase levels.

CONCLUSION: Selective COX-2 inhibitors may be unsafe in subjects with urticaria and/or angioedema caused by hypersensitivity reactions to NSAIDs with cross-intolerance if they are intolerant to paracetamol. A quarter of patients who were intolerant to this drug were also intolerant to etoricoxib. In subjects with hypersensitivity to NSAIDs and intolerance to paracetamol, selective COX-2 inhibitors should be administered as a controlled, incremental dose provocation test to assess tolerance.

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