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Allergy. 2009 Apr;64(4):534-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2008.01674.x. Epub 2009 Jan 12.

Detection and quantification of drug-specific T cells in penicillin allergy.

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Université Lyon, Oullins, France.


Drug allergic reactions presenting as maculo-papular exanthema (MPE) are mediated by drug-specific T cells. In this study, the frequency of circulating specific T cells was analyzed by interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) enzyme-linked immunospot assay in 22 patients with an allergic MPE to amoxicillin (amox). Amox-specific circulating T cells were detected in 20/22 patients with frequencies ranging from 1 : 8000 to 1 : 30 000 circulating leucocytes. No reactivity was observed in 46 control patients, including 15 patients with immunoglobulin E-mediated allergy to amoxicillin, 11 patients with a history of drug-induced MPE but tolerant to amoxicillin and 20 healthy individuals. Furthermore, amox-specific T cells were still detectable several years after the occurrence of the allergic reaction even after strict drug avoidance. Finally, analysis of drug-specific T cells in one patient allergic to ticarcillin (a penicillin antibiotic distinct from amox) revealed the presence of IFN-gamma-producing T cells reactive to ticarcillin and several other betalactam antibiotics, suggesting that the IFN-gamma ELISPOT assay is able to detect T cell cross-reactivity against chemically related drugs. These findings confirm that drug-induced MPE is associated with the presence of specific T cells in blood and further suggest that the IFN-gamma ELISPOT is a sensitive assay which could improve the diagnosis of betalactam allergy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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