Detection of human IgE to sulfamethoxazole by skin testing with sulfamethoxazoyl-poly-l-tyrosine

Rebecca S. Gruchalla, Timothy J. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Adverse reactions to sulfamethoxazole (SMX) occur in 4% to 6% of normal individuals. Many of these reactions resemble immunopathologic reactions, but skin test or in vitro evidence of a role for IgE is limited. Earlier RAST studies in our laboratory provided evidence that the N4-SMX hapten was a major determinant in immediate hypersensitivity reactions to SMX. We tested the hypothesis that IgE to this hapten is present on the mast cells of patients who have experienced immediate hypersensitivity reactions temporally related to exposure to SMX. A multivalent skin test reagent, SMX168-poly-l-tyrosine, and a univalent hapten, SMX-tyrosine, were synthesized. Forty-four patients with histories of allergic reactions to SMX and six subjects who had been exposed to the drug, but who had not reacted, were skin tested. Twenty-seven percent of the history-positive patients were skin test positive. None of the control individuals was positive. The immunologic responses to SMX in three patients who had experienced allergic reactions during SMX/trimethoprim therapy were analyzed in serial skin test and RAST assessments. One to three years after the clinical reactions, IgE to SMX could be demonstrated by skin testing in all three patients with a SMX-poly-l-tyrosine skin test reagent. Skin test reactions were inhibited by the monovalent reagent, SMX-tyrosine, in a dose-dependent manner. SMX-specific IgE antibodies could also be detected by RAST in serum obtained within days of the reactions from two of the three individuals. These IgE antibodies could not be detected in samples taken several years after the clinical reaction. RAST-inhibition experiments confirmed the immunologic specificity of the univalent hapten inhibition. The results of these experiments support the concept that the N4-SMX determinant is a major determinant in SMX allergy. These data also demonstrate that IgE to this SMX determinant can be detected by skin testing with a multivalent hapten carrier conjugate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)784-792
Number of pages9
JournalThe Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1991


  • IgE
  • Sulfamethoxazole
  • skin test reactivity
  • sulfamethoxazoyl-poly-l-tyrosine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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