Development and initial validation of a modified lymphocyte transformation test (LTT) assay in patients with DRESS and AGEP

Allergy Asthma Clin Immunol. 2022 Oct 9;18(1):90. doi: 10.1186/s13223-022-00729-4.


Background: The lymphocyte transformation test (LTT) is an in vitro assay used to diagnose drug induced hypersensitivity reactions by detecting the activation and expansion of drug-specific memory T cells to the suspected implicated drug. Traditionally radiolabelled thymidine (3H-thymidine) has been used but requires the handling and disposal of radioactive materials.

Objective: To examine safe alternatives to 3H-thymidine, test assay modifications for improved assay sensitivity and evaluate the modified LTT in patients with DRESS and AGEP.

Methods: Four proliferation detection assays (BRDU, CyQUANT™, MTT and XTT) were screened for LTT sensitivity. XTT the most sensitive and practical was selected for further evaluation Modifications like autologous serum (AS) and regulatory T cell depletion (T-REG) were tested for improved assay sensitivity. Finally, an initial evaluation of the XTT-LTT was performed in 8 patients with DRESS and 2 with AGEP including cytokine testing.

Results: Of the non-radioactive alternatives we tested, XTT a colorimetric assay was the most sensitive and practical to move to evaluation. The addition of AS increased background signal. Depletion of T-REGs improved sensitivity but cell sorting time and risk of contamination limited benefit. Of eight patients diagnosed with DRESS and 2 with AGEP tested with XTT-LTT assay results showed our assay matched clinical findings of implicated drugs in 8/10 patients when using a stimulation index (SI) ≥ 2 and 8/10 with analysis by ANOVA. All ten patients were correctly diagnosed by either analysis.

Conclusion: XTT appears to be a safe, viable alternative to 3H-thymidine, with high sensitivity and allowing direct cytokine quantification on specific patient cells.

Keywords: AGEP; DRESS; LTT.