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. 2019 Jul 11;36(4):212-221.
doi: 10.4274/balkanmedj.galenos.2019.2019.5.62. Epub 2019 Jun 14.

Kounis Syndrome—not a Single-organ Arterial Disorder but a Multisystem and Multidisciplinary Disease

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Kounis Syndrome—not a Single-organ Arterial Disorder but a Multisystem and Multidisciplinary Disease

Nicholas G. Kounis et al. Balkan Med J. .
Free PMC article


Coronary symptoms associated with conditions related to mast cell activation and inflammatory cell interactions, such as those involving T-lymphocytes and macrophages, further inducing allergic, hypersensitivity, anaphylactic, or anaphylactic insults, are currently referred to as the Kounis syndrome. Kounis syndrome is caused by inflammatory mediators released during allergic insults, post-inflammatory cell activation, and interactions via multidirectional stimuli. A platelet subset of 20% with high- and low-affinity IgE surface receptors is also involved in this process. Kounis syndrome is not just a single-organ but also a complex multisystem and multi-organ arterial clinical condition; it affects the coronary, mesenteric, and cerebral arteries and is accompanied by allergy–hypersensitivity–anaphylaxis involving the skin, respiratory, and vascular systems in the context of anesthesia, surgery, radiology, oncology, or even dental and psychiatric medicine; further, it has significantly influences both morbidity and mortality. Kounis syndrome might be caused by numerous and continuously increasing causes, with broad clinical symptoms and signs, via multi-organ arterial system involvement, in patients of any age, thereby demonstrating predominant anaphylactic features in terms of a wide spectrum of mast cell-association disorders. Cardiac symptoms, such as chest pain, coronary vasospasm, angina pectoris, myocardial infarction, stent thrombosis, acute cardiac failure, and sudden cardiac death associated with subclinical, clinical, acute, or chronic allergic reactions, constitute the clinical manifestations of this syndrome. Since its first description, a common pathway between allergic and non-allergic coronary events has been demonstrated. The hypothesis is based on the existence of a much higher degree of mast cell degranulation at plaque erosion or rupture sites compared with at the adjacent areas or even more distant segments in post-acute myocardial infarction of non-allergic etiology. Although mast cell activation, differentiation, and mediator release takes days or weeks, the mast cell degranulation may occur just before any acute coronary event, further resulting in coronary artery vasoconstriction and atheromatous plaque rupture. It seems that medications and natural molecules stabilizing the mast cell membrane as well as monoclonal antibodies protecting the mast cell surface can emerge as novel therapeutic modalities for acute coronary and cerebrovascular event prevention.

Keywords: Allergy; hypersensitivity; Kounis syndrome; anaphylaxis.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflict of Interest: No conflict of interest was declared by the authors.


Figure 1
Figure 1
The pathophysiology of Kounis syndrome.
Figure 2
Figure 2
The pathophysiology of type III variant of Kounis syndrome: Platelet adhesion via interaction of glycoprotein IIb/IIIa (GP IIb/III/a) and von Willebrand factor followed by activation-aggregation leading to stent thrombosis via various platelet receptors including allergic receptors for histamine, platelet-activating factor, thromboxane, and FCεRI-FCεRII receptors. ADP: adenosine diphosphate; PAF: platelet-activating factor; TXA: thromboxane; vWF: von Willebrand factor

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