Structural determinants of antibiotic allergy

Curr Allergy Rep. 2001 Jan;1(1):23-31. doi: 10.1007/s11882-001-0093-4.


Allergies to antibiotics, mainly the beta-lactam antibiotics (penicillins and cephalosporins), are a common, costly, and potentially dangerous clinical problem encountered in everyday practice. Although studies on the role of non-beta-lactam antibiotics in allergic diseases, particularly the development of specific diagnostic tests and the immunochemical identification of allergenic structures, have been too few and relatively superficial, the situation with the beta-lactam antibiotics is much more advanced. Good progress has been made in identifying the spectra of allergenic determinants recognized by IgE antibodies in the sera of subjects sensitized to penicillins and cephalosporins, and this is aiding the development of an appropriate battery of drug conjugates for use as diagnostic agents. Patient-sensitivity responses to the beta-lactam antibiotics are frequently heterogeneous, and this factor must be taken into account for any diagnostic strategy or future therapy with a penicillin or cephalosporin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology
  • Allergens / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects*
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / etiology
  • Epitopes / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / diagnosis
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / immunology
  • Lactams
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Allergens
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Epitopes
  • Lactams