Hypersensitivity reactions associated with 5- hydroxytryptamine(3)-receptor antagonists: a class effect?

Lancet. 1996 Mar 2;347(9001):584-5. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(96)91275-1.


Background: The 5-hydroxytryptamine(3) (5-HT(3))- receptor antagonists, granisetron, ondansetron, and tropisetron are effective anti-emetic medications for use during chemotherapy for cancer and they are generally well tolerated. Their adverse event profiles broadly overlap and include headache and gastrointestinal symptoms, especially constipation. Hypersensitivity reactions have been reported very rarely.

Methods: We describe two patients who developed severe hypersensitivity reactions following exposure to a 5- HT(3) receptor antagonist after having experienced mild to moderate hypersensitivity symptoms following previous exposure to a different 5-HT(3) receptor antagonist.

Findings: A literature search on hypersensitivity reactions associated with these drugs suggests that these are the first reported instances of cross-reactive hypersensitivity.

Interpretation: There may be a drug class effect, and we caution against switching to another 5-HT(3) receptor antagonist in patients who have suffered even mild hypersensitivity reactions during previous therapy with 5- HT(3) receptor antagonist.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antiemetics / adverse effects*
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / etiology*
  • Female
  • Granisetron / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Indoles / adverse effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Ondansetron / adverse effects*
  • Serotonin Antagonists / adverse effects*
  • Tropisetron


  • Antiemetics
  • Indoles
  • Serotonin Antagonists
  • Ondansetron
  • Tropisetron
  • Granisetron