Venom immunotherapy in patients with mastocytosis and hymenoptera venom anaphylaxis.
Systemic mastocytosis (SM) is typically suspected in patients with cutaneous mastocytosis (CM). In recent years, the presence of clonal mast cells (MCs) in a subset of patients with systemic symptoms associated with MC activation in the absence of CM has been reported and termed monoclonal MC activation syndromes or clonal systemic MC activation syndromes. In these cases, bone marrow (BM) MC numbers are usually lower than in SM with CM, there are no detectable BM MC aggregates, and serum baseline tryptase is often <20 µg/l; thus, diagnosis of SM in these patients should be based on careful evaluation of other minor WHO criteria for SM in reference centers, where highly sensitive techniques for immunophenotypic analysis and investigation of KIT mutations on fluorescence-activated cell sorter-purified BM MCs are routinely performed. The prevalence of hymenoptera venom anaphylaxis (HVA) among SM patients is higher than among the normal population and it has been reported to be approximately 5%. In SM patients with IgE-mediated HVA, venom immunotherapy is safe and effective and it should be prescribed lifelong. Severe adverse reactions to hymenoptera stings or venom immunotherapy have been associated with increased serum baseline tryptase; however, presence of clonal MC has not been ruled out in most reports and thus both SM and clonal MC activation syndrome might be underdiagnosed in such patients. In fact, clonal BM MC appears to be a relevant risk factor for both HVA and severe reactions to venom immunotherapy, while the increase in serum baseline tryptase by itself should be considered as a powerful surrogate marker for anaphylaxis. The Spanish Network on Mastocytosis has developed a scoring system based on patient gender, the clinical symptoms observed during anaphylaxis and serum baseline tryptase to predict for the presence of both MC clonality and SM among individuals who suffer from anaphylaxis.