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Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2012 Jul;109(1):47-51. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2012.05.002. Epub 2012 May 23.

Immunological mechanisms underlying delayed-type hypersensitivity reactions to glatiramer acetate.

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Pediatrics Service, Carlos Haya Hospital, Malaga, Spain.



Delayed-type hypersensitivity to glatiramer acetate is rare, and the underlying immunological mechanisms are not completely understood.


To study the immunologic response in 2 patients with multiple sclerosis who developed maculopapular exanthema related with the administration of glatiramer acetate.


The allergologic study included general blood tests, viral serologic tests, and skin tests (patch and intradermal tests). The immunologic study was performed in skin biopsy specimens by immunohistochemistry and in the peripheral blood by flow cytometry and the lymphocyte transformation test.


Skin test results were negative in both patients, and the diagnosis was confirmed by a drug provocation test. The evaluation of the acute phase showed an increase in the percentage of CD8 T lymphocytes (>50%) and the percentage of cells expressing skin-homing receptor (cutaneous lymphocyte-associated antigen) (>70%) and chemokine receptors (CCR4 and CXCR3) at T1. A positive proliferative response was observed in T lymphocytes (stimulation index [SI] = 3.5 in patient 1 and 3.59 in patient 2), especially the CD8(+) subpopulation (SI = 5.5 and 4.6 in patients 1 and 2, respectively), and NK lymphocytes (SI = 3.9 and 8.5 in patients 1 and 2, respectively) after glatiramer acetate stimulation.


This study demonstrates the important role of T(H)1 cells expressing skin-homing receptors in delayed-type hypersensitivity reactions to glatiramer acetate. A lymphocyte transformation test revealed a specific glatiramer acetate recognition by T lymphocytes and NK lymphocytes.

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