Predictors of side effects during the buildup phase of venom immunotherapy for Hymenoptera venom allergy: the importance of baseline serum tryptase

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010 Jul;126(1):105-11.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2010.04.025. Epub 2010 Jun 12.


Background: Severe side effects during venom immunotherapy (VIT) are associated with a variety of risk factors.

Objective: Our aim was to evaluate the association of baseline serum tryptase concentration (BTC) and of other parameters, which are routinely recorded during patient evaluation, with the frequency of severe reactions requiring an emergency intervention during the buildup phase of VIT.

Methods: In this observational prospective multicenter study, we enrolled 680 patients with established honeybee or vespid venom allergy who underwent VIT. Data were collected on tryptase concentration, age, sex, culprit insect, cardiovascular medication, degree of preceding sting reaction, preventive antiallergic medication before therapy, time between last preceding sting reaction and VIT, venom specific IgE concentration, and type of buildup procedure. Relative rates were calculated with generalized additive models.

Results: Fifty-seven patients (8.4%) required an emergency intervention during buildup because of a severe systemic reaction. The frequency of interventions increased significantly with higher BTC (log-linear association; adjusted odds ratio, 1.56; 95% CI, 1.15-2.11; P < .005). The predictive power of BTC was markedly greater when VIT was performed for vespid venom allergy than for bee venom (for bee VIT, no significant association; for vespid VIT, log-linear association; adjusted odds ratio, 2.33; 95% CI, 1.28-4.26; P = .005). The most important other factor significantly associated with severe reactions during the buildup phase of VIT was bee venom allergy.

Conclusion: Before vespid VIT, measurement of baseline serum tryptase concentration should be used to identify patients with a high risk for side effects. Patients with bee venom allergy require a particularly high degree of surveillance during VIT.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Arthropod Venoms / immunology*
  • Desensitization, Immunologic / adverse effects*
  • Emergencies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hymenoptera / immunology*
  • Hypersensitivity / blood
  • Hypersensitivity / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Tryptases / blood*


  • Arthropod Venoms
  • Tryptases