Risk assessment in anaphylaxis: current and future approaches

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2007 Jul;120(1 Suppl):S2-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2007.05.001.


Risk assessment of individuals with anaphylaxis is currently hampered by lack of (1) an optimal and readily available laboratory test to confirm the clinical diagnosis of an anaphylaxis episode and (2) an optimal method of distinguishing allergen-sensitized individuals who are clinically tolerant from those at risk for anaphylaxis episodes after exposure to the relevant allergen. Our objectives were to review the effector mechanisms involved in the pathophysiology of anaphylaxis; to explore the possibility of developing an optimal laboratory test to confirm the diagnosis of an anaphylaxis episode, and the possibility of improving methods to distinguish allergen sensitization from clinical reactivity; and to develop a research agenda for risk assessment in anaphylaxis. Researchers from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and the European Academy of Allergology and Clinical Immunology held a PRACTALL (Practical Allergy) meeting to discuss these objectives. New approaches being investigated to support the clinical diagnosis of anaphylaxis include serial measurements of total tryptase in serum during an anaphylaxis episode, and measurement of baseline total tryptase levels after the episode. Greater availability of the test for mature beta-tryptase, a more specific mast cell activation marker for anaphylaxis than total tryptase, is needed. Measurement of chymase, mast cell carboxypeptidase A3, platelet-activating factor, and other mast cell products may prove to be useful. Consideration should be given to measuring a panel of mediators from mast cells and basophils. New approaches being investigated to help distinguish sensitized individuals at minimum or no risk from those at increased risk of developing anaphylaxis include measurement of the ratio of allergen-specific IgE to total IgE, determination of IgE directed at specific allergenic epitopes, measurement of basophil activation markers by using flow cytometry, and assessment of allergen-specific cytokine responses. Algorithms have been developed for risk assessment of individuals with anaphylaxis, along with a research agenda for studies that could lead to an improved ability to confirm the clinical diagnosis of anaphylaxis and to identify allergen-sensitized individuals who are at increased risk of anaphylaxis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anaphylaxis / diagnosis
  • Anaphylaxis / etiology*
  • Animals
  • Food Hypersensitivity / etiology
  • Humans
  • Hymenoptera / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin E / physiology
  • Mast Cells / physiology
  • Risk Assessment*
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Tests
  • Tryptases / blood


  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Tryptases