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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Critical Care and Emergency Medicine

Inconsistent Results of Diagnostic Tools Hamper the Differentiation between Bee and Vespid Venom Allergy
Published: Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Author: Gunter J. Sturm et al.

by Gunter J. Sturm, Chunsheng Jin, Bettina Kranzelbinder, Wolfgang Hemmer, Eva M. Sturm, Antonia Griesbacher, Akos Heinemann, Jutta Vollmann, Friedrich Altmann, Karl Crailsheim, Margarete Focke, Werner Aberer


Double sensitization (DS) to bee and vespid venom is frequently observed in the diagnosis of hymenoptera venom allergy, but clinically relevant DS is rare. Therefore it is sophisticated to choose the relevant venom for specific immunotherapy and overtreatment with both venoms may occur. We aimed to compare currently available routine diagnostic tests as well as experimental tests to identify the most accurate diagnostic tool.


117 patients with a history of a bee or vespid allergy were included in the study. Initially, IgE determination by the ImmunoCAP, by the Immulite, and by the ADVIA Centaur, as well as the intradermal test (IDT) and the basophil activation test (BAT) were performed. In 72 CAP double positive patients, individual IgE patterns were determined by western blot inhibition and component resolved diagnosis (CRD) with rApi m 1, nVes v 1, and nVes v 5.


Among 117 patients, DS was observed in 63.7% by the Immulite, in 61.5% by the CAP, in 47.9% by the IDT, in 20.5% by the ADVIA, and in 17.1% by the BAT. In CAP double positive patients, western blot inhibition revealed CCD-based DS in 50.8%, and the CRD showed 41.7% of patients with true DS. Generally, agreement between the tests was only fair and inconsistent results were common.


BAT, CRD, and ADVIA showed a low rate of DS. However, the rate of DS is higher than expected by personal history, indicating that the matter of clinical relevance is still not solved even by novel tests. Furthermore, the lack of agreement between these tests makes it difficult to distinguish between bee and vespid venom allergy. At present, no routinely employed test can be regarded as gold standard to find the clinically relevant sensitization.