Immune and clinical response to honeybee venom in beekeepers

Jan Matysiak 1,  
Department of Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, Poland
Medical Faculty, Higher Vocational, State School in Kalisz, Poland
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
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.

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.

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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