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Characterization of primary recall in vitro lymphocyte responses to bacampicillin in allergic subjects
Linköping University, Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine, Molecular and Immunological Pathology. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
AstraZeneca R & D Södertälje, Safety Assessment, Department of Molecular Toxicology and Immunotoxicology, Södertälje, Sweden.
Linköping University, Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine, Molecular and Immunological Pathology. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
2000 (English)In: Clinical and Experimental Allergy, ISSN 0954-7894, E-ISSN 1365-2222, Vol. 30, no 10, 1450-1459 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]


Antigen-specific cell lines or clones are often used as models of drug-specific allergy. However, cloning procedures are time consuming, and the repeated antigen stimulation cycles as well as the addition of various growth enhancers may affect the in vivo relevance of these systems.


Using bacampicillin-allergic subjects, we wanted to investigate the applicability of primary recall in vitro lymphocyte responses to characterize type I and type IV allergy. The sensitivity and specificity of LTT (Lymphocyte transformation test), when used as an in vitro diagnostic tool, were also assessed.


A total of 39 patients with symptoms of type I (rhinitis) or type IV (allergic contact dermatitis, ACD) allergy following occupational exposure to bacampicillin, were included. Ten individuals without penicillin allergy or occupational exposure to bacampicillin served as controls. All subjects were LTT tested. Four patients with rhinitis and two patients with ACD were available for studying the immunophenotype and the TCR-Vβ repertoire of bacampicillin induced lymphoblasts as well as the cytokine profiles and expression of the activation markers CD23 and CD134 in primary PBMC cultures.


LTT was positive in 87% and at least one of the skin tests was positive in 85% of the patients with allergic symptoms. 69% of the patients with type I allergies were patch test-positive. Results from LTT and skin test correlated in 87% of the cases. The combined sensitivity of LTT and skin tests was 92%. The specificity of LTT was 90% in healthy controls. Bacampicillin induced lymphoblasts were mainly CD4 + in both ACD and rhinitis patients. The TCR-Vβ profiles of the predominant CD4 + lymphoblasts were heterogeneous with individual skewing towards Vβ2, Vβ3, Vβ5.1 and/or Vβ14. An increased expression of IFNγ was detected in bacampicillin treated PBMC cultures from the ACD but not from rhinitis patients. IL-5 was detected in bacampicillin exposed PBMC cultures from all patients but not from healthy controls. This Th2 environment could also be verified by CD23 and CD134 expression.


LTT and skin tests are equally sensitive in identifying bacampicillin allergic subjects. When the two tests are combined, the sensitivity increases. The patch test is useful not only for detection of type IV but also for the identification of type I allergies. When using primary PBMC cultures, IFNγ is the most suitable cytokine to discriminate between type I and type IV allergy. IL-5 can possibly be used as a general marker for bacampicillin induced allergy. Thus, primary cell cultures may be considered as an alternative to T-cell lines or clones for the study of drug induced allergy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2000. Vol. 30, no 10, 1450-1459 p.
Keyword [en]
activation markers, allergic contact dermatitis, bacampicillin, cytokines, flow cytometry, human lymphocytes, lymphocyte transformation test, rhinitis, skin test, T-cell receptor Vβ
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-25872DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2222.2000.00905.xLocal ID: 10309OAI: diva2:246420
Available from: 2009-10-08 Created: 2009-10-08 Last updated: 2012-08-09Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The Primary Lymphocyte Culture in the Diagnosis of Drug- and Metal-Induced Allergy
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Primary Lymphocyte Culture in the Diagnosis of Drug- and Metal-Induced Allergy
2000 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Drugs and metals are examples of xenobiotics that can induce hypersensitivity in humans. These adverse reactions are classified as allergy if repeated exposure leads to the same type of clinical manifestation. Together with the clinical history, the skin test is the most commonly used test for the diagnosis of allergic disease. However, in vivo testing per se has drawbacks such as the risk of potentiation of the allergy or even sensitisation to a given test substance. For this reason in vitro testing is an attractive diagnostic alternative since it does not involve any exposure of the test subject to the allergen.

The lymphocyte transformation test (LTT) has been used to complement the diagnosis of allergy to drugs and metals for more than thirty years. The principle behind this test is to show the presence of allergen-specific memory lymphocytes in peripheral blood, which is a sine qua non of a true allergy. LTT reveals the proliferation of such cells by showing DNA synthesis as the uptake of 3H-thymidine in primary PBMC (peripheral blood mononuclear cell) cultures treated with the allergen. However, LIT has not yet been generally accepted as a stand-alone test in the diagnosis of allergy. One reason for this is that different chemical properties of the allergens may lead to either false positive or false negative LTT responses.

In the present study we investigated allergy to the drug bacampicillin and to the metals Au, Pd, Ni and Hg. Three different protocols for LTT: LIT in micro cultures (LTT-micro), LTT in macro cultures (LTT-macro) and memory lymphocyte immunostimulation assay (MELISA) were compared using a skin test or clinical history as reference methods. LTI showed a sensitivity of 87% and a specificity of 90% when used in the diagnosis of allergy to bacampicillin. When allergy to Au, Pd, Ni and Hg was investigated, the sensitivity was 33- 95% and the specificity 0-79%. There were no significant differences between the test protocols, except that MELISA showed a significantly higher specificity than LTT-micro and LTT-macro when Hg2+ was used as antigen. Even so, this specificity was only 70%, which would result in 30 of 100 healthy subjects receiving a false diagnosis of Hg allergy when using the MELISA protocol. Ni2+ also induced high numbers of false-positive LTI responses, 77-85% patch-test negative subjects showed positive results to these metals. However, group comparisons showed a significantly higher proliferation intensity in allergic than in nonallergic groups for all allergens except Hg2+. Furthermore, only 56% of patients with verified allergy to mercury showed a positive MELISA, a sensitivity that is unacceptably low.

Following these findings, we investigated whether other endpoints than DNA synthesis could be used to discriminate allergic from healthy subjects, using primary PBMC cultures with Hg2+ or Ni2+ as a model system. Analysis of the T-cell receptor Vß profiles of lymphoblasts induced by these metal ions showed individual patterns, and there was no difference between healthy and allergic groups. However, the fraction of CD4+/Vß2+ cells correlated significantly with the proliferation intensity induced by Hg2+ in patients with a verified Hg allergy but not in non-allergic controls. Interestingly, such a correlation was not seen with CD8+/Nß2+ cells. This indicates that Hg2+ does not function as a superantigen, since classical superantigens also stimulate CD8+ lymphocytes. When Ni2+ was used as antigen we found significantly higher IL-10 production in allergic than in non-allergic subjects, despite no significant difference in proliferation intensity between these two groups.

In conclusion, the LTT test is useful for the diagnosis of allergy to bacampicillin. Regarding Au, Pd and Ni the LIT has low validity and can only be used to discriminate groups of allergic from non-allergic individuals. LTT with Hg2+ and Ni2+ is not useful for the diagnosis of allergy to these metals since a high fraction of non-allergic individuals show positive results, irrespective of the test protocol used. This thesis calls for further studies on the usefulness of in vitro IL-10 production for the diagnosis of Ni allergy as well as on the specificity of in vitro induced CD4+N~2+ lymphoblasts from Hg allergic subjects.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköpings universitet, 2000. 69 p.
Linköping University Medical Dissertations, ISSN 0345-0082 ; 635
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-28555 (URN)13708 (Local ID)91-7219-736-6 (ISBN)13708 (Archive number)13708 (OAI)
Public defence
2000-03-31, Berzeliussalen, Universitetssjukhuset, Linköping, 09:30 (Swedish)
Available from: 2009-10-09 Created: 2009-10-09 Last updated: 2012-08-09Bibliographically approved

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