Diagnostic and subdiagnostic accumulation of mast cells in the bone marrow of patients with anaphylaxis: Monoclonal mast cell activation syndrome

Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2007;142(2):158-64. doi: 10.1159/000096442. Epub 2006 Oct 20.


Background: Patients with mastocytosis may suffer from severe hypotension after wasp or bee stings. In these patients, no specific IgE is detectable, but they usually have skin lesions and an elevated serum tryptase level.

Methods: We report on 6 patients who were referred to our department because of severe hypotension following bee or wasp stings without cutaneous lesions.

Results: In 3 patients, the baseline serum tryptase level was elevated (26, 36, and 67 ng/ml, respectively), and investigation of their bone marrow revealed systemic mastocytosis (SM). In the remaining 3 patients, serum tryptase levels were <20 ng/ml, and bone marrow histology and tryptase immunohistochemistry did not reveal diagnostic mast cell infiltrates. However, in 1 patient, three minor SM criteria were demonstrable leading to the diagnosis SM, and in the 2nd patient, two minor SM criteria, including an aberrant mast cell phenotype, were found. In the 3rd patient, no minor SM criteria were detected.

Conclusions: All patients with unexplained hypotension after hymenoptera stings should undergo a thorough investigation for major and minor SM criteria regardless of the tryptase level or presence of skin lesions, in order to diagnose or exclude SM or a related subdiagnostic condition (1 or 2 minor SM criteria) tentatively termed monoclonal mast cell activation syndrome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anaphylaxis / etiology*
  • Anaphylaxis / immunology
  • Animals
  • Bees / immunology
  • Bone Marrow Cells* / immunology
  • Bone Marrow Cells* / metabolism
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Hypotension / etiology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Insect Bites and Stings / complications*
  • Male
  • Mast Cells / cytology*
  • Mast Cells / immunology
  • Mast Cells / metabolism
  • Mastocytosis, Systemic / diagnosis*
  • Mastocytosis, Systemic / immunology
  • Tryptases / blood
  • Wasps / immunology


  • Tryptases