Data from The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology - Curated by EPG Health - Date available 01 March 1999

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1 March 1999

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BACKGROUND: Previous studies defining the histopathologic features of patients with chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU) were performed on wheals of uncertain duration and before the identification of functional autoantibodies against FcepsilonRI and/or IgE, now known to be present in approximately 30% of patients with CIU.

OBJECTIVE: We sought to determine the timing of the inflammatory infiltrate in the wheals of patients with CIU and to detect differences between patients with and without autoantibodies.

METHODS: Immunohistochemistry was used to identify neutrophils (neutrophil elastase), T lymphocytes (CD3), and activated eosinophils (EG2) in biopsy specimens from uninvolved skin and wheals present for less than 4 hours and greater than 12 hours in 22 patients with CIU, as well as in biopsy specimens from the skin of 12 healthy control subjects. Patients were identified as having functional autoantibodies on the basis of their serum-evoked histamine release in vitro from the basophils of 2 healthy donors.

RESULTS: EG2(+), neutrophil elastase+, and, to a lesser extent, CD3(+) cells were found in greater numbers in wheals undergoing biopsy at less than 4 and greater than 12 hours than in uninvolved skin (P <.05). Patients without autoantibodies (n = 12) had significantly more EG2(+) cells in wheals of greater than 12 hours' duration than patients with autoantibodies (n = 10; P =.02). There was no other difference between patients with and without autoantibodies in the cutaneous cellular infiltrate.

CONCLUSION: Neutrophil and eosinophil accumulation occurs early in the evolution of a wheal in patients with CIU, but eosinophil activation may occur later or be more persistent in patients without autoantibodies.

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