Background: There is still a lack of standardization of the atopy patch test (APT) in test procedures and evaluation methods. Our aim was to examine the reproducibility of APT results and to compare visual evaluation to chromametry and laser Doppler imaging.
Methods: Fifty-two volunteers with atopic eczema/dermatitis syndrome (AEDS) were included. The APT was performed on tape-stripped and unstripped test fields on their backs using cat dander, house dust mite and grass pollen allergens from two different suppliers. Responders were re-tested 4-12 weeks later with the same allergens on their forearms.
Results: Using Allergopharma allergens, 14 (26.9%) volunteers showed one or more positive reactions. The reproducibility rate was 56.3%. The Erlangen atopy score in APT-positive and negative volunteers was 19 +/- 6 vs 15 +/- 6. The test agreement in volunteers tested with both allergens, from Allergopharma and Stallergènes, was poor. Correlation of the results between the three evaluation methods was significant (P < or = 0.001).
Conclusions: The low reproducibility rate of APT results and the poor inter-test-agreement using allergens from different suppliers show that much work remains to make the APT a reliable tool in identifying relevant aeroallergens that lead to flare ups of AEDS. Compared to chromametry and laser Doppler imaging, visual scoring was superior in differentiation between irritative and allergic reactions.