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Dynamics of plasma levels of specific IgE in chlorhexidine allergic patients with and without accidental re-exposure

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BACKGROUND: Chlorhexidine is an effective disinfectant, which may cause severe allergic reactions. Plasma level of specific IgE to chlorhexidine (ImmunoCAP(®) ) has high estimated sensitivity and specificity when measured within 6 months of allergic reaction, but knowledge of the dynamics over longer time periods is lacking and it is unknown whether levels fall below <0.35 kUA/L in patients with previously elevated levels. It is also unclear whether re-exposure influences levels of specific IgE.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the dynamics of specific IgE in chlorhexidine allergic patients with and without re-exposure.

METHODS: All patients diagnosed with chlorhexidine allergy in the Danish Anaesthesia Allergy Centre January 1999 to March 2015 were invited to participate. The study included blood samples from the time of reaction and time of investigation and blood samples drawn prospectively over several years.

RESULTS: Overall, 23 patients were included. Specific IgE within hours of reaction was available in eight patients and was >0.35 kUA/L in six of these. During allergy investigations, usually 2-4 months later, specific IgE was >0.35 kUA/L in 22 of 23 patients. In the following months/years specific IgE declined <0.35 kUA/L in 17 of 23 patients (most rapidly within 4 months). Nine re-exposures in the healthcare setting were reported by seven patients (35%). Most re-exposures caused symptoms and were followed by an increase in specific IgE. Two patients with specific IgE <0.35 kUA/L reacted upon re-exposure.

CONCLUSIONS & CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Time from reaction should be considered when interpreting specific IgE results. Specific IgE is >0.35 kUA/L in most patients at time of reaction but should be repeated after a few weeks/months if negative. The optimal sampling time seems to be >1 month and <4 months. A value <0.35 kUA/L neither excludes allergy nor implies loss of reactivity in previously sensitized patients. Re-exposures are common, often iatrogenic, and can cause a rebound in specific IgE.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical and experimental allergy : journal of the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Volume46
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)1090-8
Number of pages9
ISSN0954-7894
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016

    Research areas

  • Journal Article

ID: 49271063