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Chapter 24: Anaphylaxis

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Anaphylaxis is a sudden-onset, immediate reaction that implies a risk of death. Think of a “rule of 2's” for anaphylaxis implying that reactions usually begin within 2 minutes to 2 hours after injection, infusion, ingestion, contact, or inhalation. Fatalities can be from asphyxiation from laryngeal or oropharyngeal swelling, collapse from hypotensive shock, cardiac arrest, or acute severe bronchoconstriction causing respiratory failure and arrest. When there is activation of mast cells and basophils in anaphylaxis, chemical mediators are detectable. The preformed mediators from mast cells include histamine, tryptase, carboxypeptidase A, and proteoglycans (heparin and chondroitin sulfates). Newly synthesized mediators include prostaglandin D2, leukotriene D4, and platelet-activating factor. Crucial actions of the mediators include an abrupt increase in vascular permeability, vascular smooth muscle relaxation, and bronchial smooth muscle contraction. Anaphylaxis can be classified into immunologic, nonimmunologic, or idiopathic based on the associated mechanism. For example, immunologic causes of anaphylaxis are those mediated by IgE antibodies acting through the FcεR I (foods, insect venom, and beta-lactam antibiotics) whereas non-IgE immunologic anaphylaxis is mediated without presence of antiallergen IgE antibodies or via FcεRI activation (radiographic contrast material). Nonimmunologic anaphylaxis involves mast cell mediator release such as occurs with exercise, cold temperature exposure, or from medications such as opioids or vancomycin. Idiopathic anaphylaxis involves mast cell activation (acutely elevated urine histamine or serum tryptase) and activated lymphocytes. Because anaphylaxis is a medical emergency, the drug of choice is epinephrine, not H1-receptor antagonists.

Keywords: Anaphylaxis; IgE antibodies; epinephrine; fatalities mediators; histamine tryptase; idiopathic anaphylaxis; mast cell

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 1, 2012

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  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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