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RESEARCH PAPER
 
CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
 
 

Immune and clinical response to honeybee venom in beekeepers

Jan Matysiak 1,  
 
1
Department of Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, Poland
2
Medical Faculty, Higher Vocational, State School in Kalisz, Poland
3
Department of Pediatric Pneumonology, Allergology and Clinical Immunology K. Jonscher Clinical Hospital in Poznań, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med 2016;23(1):120–124
KEYWORDS:
ABSTRACT:
OBJECTIVE:
The aim of the study was to assess immune response to honeybee venom in relation to the degree of exposure, time after a sting and clinical symptoms.

Material and Methods:
Fifty-four volunteers were divided into 2 groups: beekeepers and a control group. The serum levels of total IgE (tIgE), bee venom-specific IgE (venom sIgE), phospholipase A2-specific IgE (phospholipase A2 sIgE), tryptase and venom-specific IgG4 (venom sIgG4) were determined. In beekeepers, diagnostic tests were performed within 3 hours following a sting and were repeated after a minimum of 6 weeks from the last sting. In individuals from the control group, the tests were performed only once, without a sting.

Results:
The tests showed significant differences in venom sIgE (beekeepers' median = 0.34 kUA/l, control group median = 0.29 kUA/l), baseline serum tryptase (beekeepers' median = 4.25 µg/l, control group median = 2.74 µg/l) and sIgG4 (beekeepers' median = 21.2 mgA/l, control group median = 0.14 mgA/l), confirming higher levels of the tested substances in the beekeepers than in the control group. A significant positive correlation was observed between phospholipase A2 sIgE concentration and severity of clinical symptoms after a sting in the group of beekeepers. It was also demonstrated that the clinical symptoms after a sting became less severe with increasing age of the beekeepers.

Conclusions:
The differences in the immune response to a bee sting between the beekeepers and individuals not exposed to bees were probably due to the high exposure of the beekeepers to honeybee venom allergens. This may suggest a different approach to the bee venom allergy diagnostic tests in this occupational group.

 
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