Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
N Engl J Med. 2008 Mar 13;358(11):1109-17. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa074943.

Cetuximab-induced anaphylaxis and IgE specific for galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose.

Author information

  • 1Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, USA.



Cetuximab, a chimeric mouse-human IgG1 monoclonal antibody against the epidermal growth factor receptor, is approved for use in colorectal cancer and squamous-cell carcinoma of the head and neck. A high prevalence of hypersensitivity reactions to cetuximab has been reported in some areas of the United States.


We analyzed serum samples from four groups of subjects for IgE antibodies against cetuximab: pretreatment samples from 76 case subjects who had been treated with cetuximab at multiple centers, predominantly in Tennessee, Arkansas, and North Carolina; samples from 72 control subjects in Tennessee; samples from 49 control subjects with cancer in northern California; and samples from 341 female control subjects in Boston.


Among 76 cetuximab-treated subjects, 25 had a hypersensitivity reaction to the drug. IgE antibodies against cetuximab were found in pretreatment samples from 17 of these subjects; only 1 of 51 subjects who did not have a hypersensitivity reaction had such antibodies (P<0.001). IgE antibodies against cetuximab were found in 15 of 72 samples (20.8%) from control subjects in Tennessee, in 3 of 49 samples (6.1%) from northern California, and in 2 of 341 samples (0.6%) from Boston. The IgE antibodies were shown to be specific for an oligosaccharide, galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, which is present on the Fab portion of the cetuximab heavy chain.


In most subjects who had a hypersensitivity reaction to cetuximab, IgE antibodies against cetuximab were present in serum before therapy. The antibodies were specific for galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose.

Copyright 2008 Massachusetts Medical Society.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Atypon Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk