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Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2002 Aug;2(4):347-51.

Diagnosis of Hymenoptera venom sensitivity.

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Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Johns Hopkins Asthma and Allergy Center, 5501 Hopkins Bayview Circle, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA.



The objective of this review is to highlight recent advances in the preparation, documentation and performance of reagents and methods used in the diagnosis of Hymenoptera-venom-induced immediate-type hypersensitivity.


The following potent allergens have been reported: (1) a low-molecular-weight honey-bee allergen (Api m 6) has been described; (2) venom allergens in the North American species of bumble-bee (Bombus pennsylvanicus) have been more fully characterized, with the focus on phospholipase A2; (3) the vespid venom Ves v 5 allergen has been structurally mapped to identify immunoglobulin-E-binding epitopes; (4) the possible role of carbohydrate antigen epitopes as a cause of cross-reactivity among honey-bee and vespid venom proteins has been reported; and (5) the venom of Pachycondyla chinensis, an ant found commonly in the Far East, has been described. The most significant reports during this period have focused on the less-than-ideal performance of the intradermal venom skin-test reagents. The issue of the patient that is positive for venom allergy history but negative for an intradermal venom skin test is raised, and it is suggested that there is a need for caution and the use of serology as a supplementary diagnostic test.


The important issue this year is the reminder that intradermal skin tests may be negative in venom-allergic patients, possibly because of changes in the potency of the extracts. The clinical history should drive the diagnosis of insect-sting allergy. When negative confirmatory venom skin-test or serology results are considered to be inconsistent with a positive history, they should be repeated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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