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Invest Radiol. 1976 SEP-OCT;11(5):347-56.

The allergic theory of radiocontrast agent toxicity: demonstration of antibody activity in sera of patients suffering major radiocontrast agent reactions.


An allergic, immunologic mechanism for certain adverse reactions to radiocontrast agents has been postulated on the basis of clinical and theoretical considerations. One obstacle to the acceptance of this allergic theory has been the inability to demonstrate significant antibodies with specificity for these agents. In our studies, rabbits were immunized with 4 analogues of radiocontrast agents which induced IgG or IgE antibodies specific for the contrast media analogues. Then, to determine if antibodies to contrast agents were present in man a prospective, one-year surveillance of radiocontrast agent reactions was undertaken. Sera from 27 patients suffering severe reactions and 37 control subjects were analyzed by radioimmunoassay for antibodies reactive with radiocontrast media. Binding of radiolabeled contrast media was significantly elevated (p less than 0.01) by the serum globulin fraction of the patients suffering severe reactions. Demonstration of this antibody activity, although not proof of cause and effect between the presence of antibody activity and clinical symptoms, nonetheless adds support to the hypothesis that some adverse reactions to radiocontrast agents are due to antibodies.

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