Molecular profiling in bee venom allergy: clinical and therapeutic characterization in a Portuguese cohort

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Authors Information

1Department of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Coimbra Hospital and University Center, Coimbra, Portugal
2Department of Clinical Pathology, Coimbra Hospital and University Center, Coimbra, Portugal
3Coimbra Clinical Academic Center, Faculty of Medicine, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal
*Contributed equally


Published: 20 February 2024
Accepted: 14 February 2024
Received: 12 November 2023


Background. Bee venom allergy (BVA) can trigger local and systemic allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. Recently, the molecular sensitization profile has gained importance in the reaction’s stratification and venom immunotherapy (VIT). Methods.  Retrospective analysis of patients with hypersensitivity to BVA, confirmed by specific sIgE to Apis mellifera ≥0.35 kU/L and/or positive skin tests to bee venom commercial extract, evaluated in specialized consultation. Demographic, clinical, and laboratory data (including molecular Api m 1, 4, and 10) were analyzed, looking for risk factors associated with the severity of the index reaction and reactions during VIT. Results. 93 patients were included (55.9% male; median age of 46 years), 57.3% with atopic comorbidities, and 23.4% with cardiovascular comorbidities. The median specific IgE to Apis mellifera was 6.7 kU/L (IQR 1.0-20.3) kU/L. Regarding the molecular profile, the median IgE to Api m 1 was 0.5 kU/L (57.5% positive out of all measurements); Api m 4 – 0.01 kU/L (11.9% positive), and Api m 10 – 0.3 kU/L (50.0% positive). No patient was monosensitized to Api m 4. The median age of the most severe sting reaction was 36 (IQR 26-48) years, with a median severity (Müeller scale) of 3 (IQR 2-3). Forty-seven patients (50.5%) underwent VIT, with 35.6% of reactions recorded. Allergic reactions during VIT were recorded in 35.6% of cases. The severity of the index reaction correlated positively with older ages (p=0.040; r=0.249), in contrast to monosensitization to Api m 1, which was an independent predictor of milder reactions (p=0.015). Sensitization to Api m 10 was associated with a higher likelihood of reactions during VIT (p=0.038) but potentially less systemic reactions at re-stings (p=0.097). Conclusions. Molecular sensitization profile appears to be relevant not only to the severity of index reactions but also during VIT. Studies of a large cohort of patients with molecular profiles are essential to validate these results and improve the clinical and therapeutic approach to BVA.

Bee venom allergy; venom immunotherapy; component-resolved diagnostics. 

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