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Utility of laboratory testing for the diagnosis of Hymenoptera venom allergy

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A diagnosis of Hymenoptera venom allergy is based on clinical history and the results of skin tests and/or laboratory methods.


To analyze the utility of available laboratory tests in diagnosing Hymenoptera venom allergy.


Ninety-five patients with Hymenoptera venom allergy with a history of bee (35) or wasp (60) anaphylactic sting reaction and positive skin test with bee or wasp venom were included in this analysis. Specific immunoglobulin E (to bee venom extract, wasp venom extract, available recombinant molecules, and a basophil activation test with venom extracts were assessed in all the patients. Test sensitivity and specificity were calculated by using standard threshold values; then, receiver operating characteristic curve analysis was performed to compute optimal threshold values. Also, statistical analysis of the utility of different combinations of laboratory tests was performed.


The optimal threshold values were revealed to be the following: 1.0 kIU/L for bee venom extract (sensitivity, 97.14%; specificity, 100%), 0.35 kIU/L for rApi m 1 (sensitivity, 68.57%; specificity, 100%), 1.22 kIU/L for wasp venom extract (sensitivity, 88.33%; specificity, 95.45%), 0.7 kIU/L for rVes v 5 (sensitivity, 86.67%; specificity, 95.45%), 1.0 kIU/L for rVes v 1 (sensitivity, 56.67%; specificity, 95.45%), 6.5% for basophil activation test with bee venom extract (sensitivity, 80%; specificity, 95.45%), and 4.5% for basophil activation test with wasp venom extract (sensitivity, 91.53%; specificity, 95.45%). The best test combinations were found to be the following: bee venom extract plus rApi m 1 (sensitivity, 97.14%; specificity, 95.45%) in bee and either wasp venom extract plus rVes v 5, or rVes v 5 plus rVes v 1 (both sensitivity, 98.33%; specificity, 95.45%) in patients with wasp venom allergy.


Our analysis confirmed that currently used laboratory tests represent effective tools in diagnosing Hymenoptera venom allergy. Moreover, our probabilistic approach offered another way to interpret concrete values of laboratory test results and opened possible direction on how to optimize the laboratory diagnostic procedure.
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Keywords: Hymenoptera venom allergy; basophil activation test; molecular diagnosis; venom extract

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Immunology and Allergology, Faculty of Medicine and Faculty Hospital in Pilsen, Charles University in Prague, Pilsen, Czech Republic

Publication date: May 1, 2016

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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.

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    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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