Alpha-gal syndrome is a hypersensitivity reaction to red meat mediated by IgE antibody specific to galactose-α-1,3-galactose carbohydrate (alpha-gal). Amblyomma tick bites are associated with this condition, but the pathophysiology is not understood.Objective:
To clarify the mechanism of development of alpha-gal syndrome after tick bites.Methods:
We compared alpha-gal antibody levels between patients with and without a history of tick bites and examined histologic stainings of tick bite lesions between patients with and without detectable alpha-gal IgE antibody.Results:
Patients who had ≥2 tick bites had higher levels of alpha-gal IgE antibody compared with those with only 1 tick bite or healthy individuals. On histologic investigation, greater numbers of basophils and eosinophils, but not mast cells, were observed infiltrating lesions of patients with ≥2 tick bites compared with those with 1 tick bite. Type 2 cytokine-producing T-cell infiltration was predominantly observed in such patients.Limitations:
The study was conducted at a single institution in Japan.Conclusion:
In Amblyomma tick bite lesions, basophils; eosinophils; and type 2, cytokine-producing T cells infiltrate the skin and alpha-gal IgE antibodies are produced. These findings provide a potential mechanistic connection between Amblyomma bites and red meat hypersensitivity.