Objective: The study was designed to evaluate the atopy patch test (APT) and the late-phase reaction (LPR) after intracutaneous allergen injection as models for the study of allergic inflammation in atopic eczema.
Methods: Immunocytochemistry was used to analyze skin biopsy specimens from sites of APTs and LPRs at 2 and 24 hours and to compare these with lesional and nonlesional skin of patients with atopic eczema.
Results: A lack of neutrophil infiltration in specimens from both the APT and lesional skin sites was observed, whereas neutrophils were abundantly present in the specimens from LPR sites. With double-staining techniques it was demonstrated that the few neutrophils present in specimens from APT sites and in lesional skin were mostly located in intravascular areas, whereas in the LPR specimens they were located predominantly in extravascular areas. Eosinophils infiltrated at an earlier time point in the LPR as compared with the APT. Furthermore, there was a decrease of intact mast cells in the LPR site compared with the APT sites and lesional skin. No significant difference in T-cell number was observed between the two tests. Upregulation of E-selectin expression on endothelial cells occurred at an earlier time point in the LPR as compared with the APT.
Conclusion: There are important differences in cellular infiltrate between the APT and the LPR. The close macroscopic and microscopic similarities between the specimens from APT sites and lesional skin of patients with atopic eczema support the argument that the APT is a more valid in vivo model with which to study allergic inflammation in atopic eczema than the LPR.