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Diagnosis, pathogenesis, and treatment of chronic spontaneous urticaria

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Chronic Spontaneous Urticaria (CSU) is an endogenous disorder that is strongly associated with autoimmunity, particularly with immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody to the alpha subunit of the IgE receptor seen in 35‐40% of patients. Basophils and cutaneous mast cells can be activated and lead to a late-phase-like perivascular infiltration about small venules and hive formation.


Review of current literature.


Antibody to thyroid antigens are seen in 25% of patients; a small fraction of these may be clinically hypothyroid (Hashimoto's Thyroiditis). Forty percent of patients have angioedema, but not laryngeal edema. Therapy typically begins with second-generation antihistamines (H1 receptor blockers) up to four times a day. The failure rate is substantial, and estimates vary from 25% to 50%. The drug of choice for antihistamine resistant cases is omalizumab, at 300 mg/month, which is effective in 70% of patients. H-2-antagonists and leucotriene antagonists are no longer recommended because the literature does not support additional efficacy beyond blockage of H-1 receptors. For patients unresponsive to antihistamines and omalizumab, cyclosporine is recommended next. This is similarly effective in 65‐70% of patients; however, assessment of blood pressure and renal function need to be followed every 4‐6 weeks. Corticosteroid should not be employed chronically; however, a brief course of 3‐10 days can be used acutely for severe exacerbations. Other agents, such as dapsone, sulfasalazine, or hydroxychloroquin, can be tried when the aforementioned medications fail, but the results are unpredictable because they have not been shown to have efficacy beyond the placebo effect (25‐30%), and have not been studied in patients for whom the aforementioned approach i.e. antihistamines, omalizumab, and cyclosporine has failed.


High dose antihistamines, omalizumab and cyclosporine (in that order) are effective and recommended for therapy of CUS, an inflammatory skin disorder associated with autoimmunity in 45% of patients.
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Keywords: Angioedema; antihistamine; auto-antibodies; cyclosporine; histamine; omalizumab; urticaria

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2018

More about this publication?
  • 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 and by having the potential to directly impact the quality of patient care. AAP welcomes the submission of original works including peer-reviewed original research and clinical trial results. Additionally, as the official journal of the Eastern Allergy Conference (EAC), AAP will publish content from EAC poster sessions as well as review articles derived from EAC lectures.

    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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