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Immune pathomechanism of drug hypersensitivity reactions.

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2011
Author Pichler Werner J, Naisbitt Dean J, Park B Kevin,
Project Investigating the primary immune response against drugs in humans
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology
Volume (Issue) 127(3 Suppl)
Page(s) 74 - 81
Title of proceedings The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology
DOI 10.1016/j.jaci.2010.11.048


Drug hypersensitivity research has progressed enormously in recent years, and a greater understanding of mechanisms has contributed to improved drug safety. Progress has been made in genetics, enabling personalized medicine for certain drugs, and in understanding drug interactions with the immune system. In a recent meeting in Rome, the clinical, chemical, pharmacologic, immunologic, and genetic aspects of drug hypersensitivity were discussed, and certain aspects are briefly summarized here. Small chemicals, including drugs, can induce immune reactions by binding as a hapten to a carrier protein. Park (Liverpool, England) demonstrated (1) that drug haptens bind to protein in patients in a highly restricted manner and (2) that irreversibly modified carrier proteins are able to stimulate CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells from hypersensitive patients. Drug haptens might also stimulate cells of the innate immune system, in particular dendritic cells, and thus give rise to a complex and complete immune reaction. Many drugs do not have hapten-like characteristics but might gain them on metabolism (so-called prohaptens). The group of Naisbitt found that the stimulation of dendritic cells and T cells can occur as a consequence of the transformation of a prohapten to a hapten in antigen-presenting cells and as such explain the immune-stimulatory capacity of prohaptens. The striking association between HLA-B alleles and the development of certain drug reactions was discussed in detail. Mallal (Perth, Australia) elegantly described a highly restricted HLA-B∗5701-specific T-cell response in abacavir-hypersensitive patients and healthy volunteers expressing HLA-B∗5701 but not closely related alleles. Expression of HLA-B∗1502 is a marker known to be necessary but not sufficient to predict carbamazepine-induced Stevens-Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis in Han Chinese. The group of Chen and Hong (Taiwan) described the possible "missing link" because they showed that the presence of certain T-cell receptor (TCR) clonotypes was necessary to elicit T-cell responses to carbamazepine. The role of TCRs in drug binding was also emphasized by Pichler (Bern, Switzerland). Following up on their "pharmacological interactions of drugs with immune receptors" concept (p-i concept), namely that drugs can bind directly to TCRs, MHC molecules, or both and thereby stimulate T cells, they looked for drug-binding sites for the drug sulfamethoxazole in drug-specific TCRs: modeling revealed up to 7 binding sites on the CDR3 and CDR2 regions of TCR Vα and Vβ. Among many other presentations, the important role of regulatory T cells in drug hypersensitivity was addressed.