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. Sep-Oct 2018;6(5):1662-1672.
doi: 10.1016/j.jaip.2018.01.020. Epub 2018 Feb 3.

Cross-Reactivity and Tolerability of Cephalosporins in Patients With IgE-Mediated Hypersensitivity to Penicillins


Cross-Reactivity and Tolerability of Cephalosporins in Patients With IgE-Mediated Hypersensitivity to Penicillins

Antonino Romano et al. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. .


Background: Studies performed since 1990 on samples of at least 30 subjects with a documented IgE-mediated hypersensitivity to penicillins have found a rate of positive responses to allergy tests with cephalosporins ranging from 0% to 27%.

Objective: We sought to assess the cross-reactivity with cephalosporins and evaluate the possibility of using cephalosporins in penicillin-allergic subjects.

Methods: We conducted a prospective study of 252 consecutive subjects who had suffered 319 immediate reactions (mostly anaphylaxis) to penicillins and had positive skin tests to at least 1 penicillin reagent. All patients underwent serum specific IgE assays for cefaclor, as well as skin tests with 3 aminocephalosporins (cephalexin, cefaclor, and cefadroxil), cefamandole, cefuroxime, ceftazidime, ceftriaxone, cefotaxime, and cefepime. Patients with negative results for the last 5 cephalosporins were challenged with cefuroxime axetil and ceftriaxone; those with negative results for aminocephalosporins were also challenged with cefaclor and cefadroxil.

Results: Ninety-nine participants (39.3%) had positive allergy tests for cephalosporins. Specifically, 95 (37.7%) were positive to aminocephalosporins and/or cefamandole, which share similar or identical side chains with penicillins. All 244 subjects who underwent challenges with cefuroxime axetil and ceftriaxone tolerated them. Of the 170 patients who underwent aminocephalosporin challenges, 3 reacted to cefaclor and 4 to cefadroxil.

Conclusions: Cross-reactivity between penicillins and cephalosporins seems to be mainly related to side chain similarity or identity. Subjects with an IgE-mediated hypersensitivity to penicillins could be treated with cephalosporins such as cefuroxime and ceftriaxone that have side-chain determinants different from those of penicillins and are negative in pretreatment skin testing.

Keywords: Cephalosporins; Challenges; Cross-reactivity; Immediate reactions; Penicillins; Skin tests; Tolerability.

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