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Anaesth Intensive Care. 2000 Apr;28(2):167-70.

Immunoassays in the diagnosis of anaphylaxis to neuromuscular blocking drugs: the value of morphine for the detection of IgE antibodies in allergic subjects.

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Intensive Therapy Unit, Kolling Institute of Medical Research, Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, N.S.W.


Radioimmunoassays (RIAs) for IgE antibodies to specific neuromuscular blocking drugs (NMBDs) are an important tool in the diagnosis of anaphylaxis during anaesthesia although they are performed in only a few laboratories throughout the world. NMBDs bind to antibodies by their substituted ammonium ions. We measured serum IgE antibodies to morphine and specific NMBDs in 347 patients with suspected anaphylaxis using blood specimens sent for mast cell tryptase assays. Morphine, which has a single substituted ammonium group, avidly binds in vitro to antibodies that react with NMBDs. The morphine RIA proved to be both a more sensitive and efficient test for the detection of IgE antibodies to NMBDs than the specific NMBD RIAs. We have adopted the morphine RIA in our laboratory in preference to the specific RIAs and predict that use of this single assay will become widespread for the in vitro diagnosis of allergic sensitivities to NMBDs.

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