Abstract: The variety of chemically diverse pharmacologically-active compounds administered to patients is large and seemingly forever growing, and, with every new drug released and administered, there is always the potential of an allergic reaction. The most commonly occurring allergic responses to drugs are the type I, or immediate hypersensitivity reactions mediated by IgE antibodies. These reactions may affect a single organ, such as the nasopharynx (allergic rhinitis), eyes (conjunctivitis), mucosa of mouth/throat/tongue (angioedema), bronchopulmonary tissue (asthma), gastrointestinal tract (gastroenteritis) and skin (urticaria, eczema), or multiple organs (anaphylaxis), causing symptoms ranging from minor itching and inflammation to death. It seems that almost every drug is capable of causing an immediate reaction and it is unusual to find a drug that has not provoked an anaphylactic response in at least one patient. These facts alone indicate the extraordinary breadth of recognition of IgE antibodies for drugs ranging from relatively simple structures, for example, aspirin, to complex molecules, such as the macrolide antibiotics composed of a large macrocyclic ring with attached deoxy sugars. This wide recognition profile is borne out at the molecular level by results of quantitative immunochemical studies where hapten inhibition investigations have identified structural determinants complementary to IgE antibodies in the sera of allergic subjects. Allergenic determinants have been identified on a variety of drugs including neuromuscular blockers, penicillins, cephalosporins, opioids, thiopentone, sulfonamides, trimethoprim, quinolones, chlorhexidine and the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug aspirin. It is already clear that IgE can distinguish fine structural differences on a wide variety of molecules, determinants may be at least as small as an amino group or encompass the whole molecule, and individual drugs may demonstrate allergenic heterogeneity.
Keywords: IgE to drugs; drug allergy; drug allergens; drug allergenic determinants; allergic drug reactions; drug anaphylaxis
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Baldo, B.A. IgE and Drug Allergy: Antibody Recognition of ‘Small’ Molecules of Widely Varying Structures and Activities. Antibodies 2014, 3, 56-91.
Baldo BA. IgE and Drug Allergy: Antibody Recognition of ‘Small’ Molecules of Widely Varying Structures and Activities. Antibodies. 2014; 3(1):56-91.
Baldo, Brian A. 2014. "IgE and Drug Allergy: Antibody Recognition of ‘Small’ Molecules of Widely Varying Structures and Activities." Antibodies 3, no. 1: 56-91.