Interferon-γ secreted from peripheral blood mononuclear cells as a possible diagnostic marker for allergic contact dermatitis to gold

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10% of patch-tested patients have a positive reaction to gold. Most lack clinical symptoms, but allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) to gold is increasing. In this study, 77 dermatological outpatients were divided into 3 groups depending on epicutaneous patch test outcomes: a group positive to gold (EPI+), a group negative to gold (EPI−), and a group with irritant reactions to gold (EPI-IR). Lymphocytes were stimulated in vitro with gold sodium thiosulfate. Proliferation was assessed using the lymphocyte transformation test (LTT), and cytokine secretion was assessed using a multibead array (Luminex®; Linco Research Inc., St. Charles, MO, USA), in order to evaluate whether an in vitro method with high diagnostic accuracy could be devised. The EPI+ group showed a significantly increased secretion of interferon (IFN)-γ, interleukin (IL)-2, and IL-13 and also showed a significantly higher stimulation indexes for LTT, compared to the other 2 subject groups. Sensitivity and specificity were calculated for all methods individually and combined, but IFN-γ assessment alone was the most accurate method for identifying ACD to gold, with sensitivity and specificity of 81.8% and 82.1%, respectively. This method also identified 87.5% of the EPI-IR subjects as non-allergic. Therefore, assessment of secretion of IFN-γ should be a valuable complement to patch test for diagnosing gold allergy.

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