Anti-FcεRI autoantibodies and basophil histamine releasability in chronic idiopathic urticaria

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Circulating functional autoantibodies to the high-affinity IgE receptor (FcεRI) or to IgE have been found in approximately one third of patients with chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU).


We sought to compare basophil histamine release and basophil numbers in patients with CIU with and without autoantibodies.


Basophil histamine release to the anti-FcεRI mAb 22E7, anti-IgE, and formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (fMLP); basophil numbers; and total cellular histamine were measured in 26 patients with CIU and 18 healthy control subjects. Twelve patients were classified as having functional anti-FcεRI and/or anti-IgE autoantibodies on the basis of their serum-evoked histamine release from the basophils of 2 healthy donors.


22E7 and anti-IgE, but not fMLP, released less histamine from basophils of patients with CIU than from those of control subjects. Mean ± SEM maximum histamine release to 22E7 from basophils of control subjects and patients with CIU with and without autoantibodies was 38.5% ± 5.0%, 17.9% ± 6.0% (P = .01), and 1.0% ± 0.3% (P < .0001), respectively. Similar results were obtained with anti-IgE, which is dependent on and cross-links cell bound IgE, and 22E7, which directly cross-links the IgE receptor. The mean ± SEM basophil counts for control subjects and patients with CIU without and with autoantibodies were 52 ± 7, 34 ± 9 (P = .04), and 5 ± 1 (P < .0001) × 106 cells/L, respectively, and similar changes were found in measurements of total cellular histamine.


Patients with autoantibodies have both markedly reduced basophil numbers and basophil histamine release to factors acting through FcεRI, which indicates either a residual pool of functionally distinct basophils or may be a consequence of desensitization of the FcεRI pathway.

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