The controversy of drug hypersensitivity in patients with cystic fibrosis and review of the literature

Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2022 Feb;33(2):e13719. doi: 10.1111/pai.13719.


Background: Cystic fibrosis (CF) is reported to be a risk factor for drug hypersensitivity. However, there are conflicting data about true prevalence of drug hypersensitivity in children with CF.

Methods: The suspicious drug hypersensitivity reactions (DHRs) of children with CF were enquired by the European Network for Drug Allergy (ENDA) questionnaire, and skin tests and/or drug provocation tests were performed according to the established guidelines.

Results: Two hundred and nineteen children (48.9% boys; median [IQR] age, 8.4 years [4.8-12.4 years]) with cystic fibrosis were included in the study, among which 22 patients with 24 suspected DHRs were evaluated. Most of the suspected DHRs were of non-immediate (n = 16, 66.6%) type, and the offending drugs were amoxicillin-clavulanic acid (n = 7), macrolides (n = 4), trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP/SMX) (n = 2), piperacillin-tazobactam (n = 1), pancrelipase (n = 1), and ursodeoxycholic acid (n = 1). Eight (33.3%) of the DHRs were classified as immediate (ceftriaxone [n = 2], ceftazidime [n = 2], meropenem [n = 1], AmBisome [n = 2], and vancomycin [n = 1]). The main clinical presentations were maculopapular eruption (41.6%) and urticaria (37.5%), accompanied by angioedema (8.3%), flushing (12.5%), and vomiting (8.3%). Nine skin tests (with beta-lactam protocol in 6 patients) and 24 DPTs were performed, and none of the skin tests revealed a positive result; however, 2 DPTs with TMP/SMX were positive.

Conclusion: Actual drug hypersensitivity was demonstrated in 2 of 219 patients (0.9%) with non-beta-lactam antibiotics. These results conflict with previous researches that showed higher drug hypersensitivity rates but are consistent with some recent studies. Allergological diagnostic workup is mandatory in patients with cystic fibrosis in case of a suspicious DHR.

Keywords: actual drug allergy; challenge tests; cystic fibrosis; drug hypersensitivity reactions; skin prick tests.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Child
  • Cystic Fibrosis* / complications
  • Cystic Fibrosis* / drug therapy
  • Cystic Fibrosis* / epidemiology
  • Drug Hypersensitivity* / diagnosis
  • Drug Hypersensitivity* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Skin Tests
  • beta-Lactams / adverse effects


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • beta-Lactams