Evidence of in vivo basophil activation in chronic idiopathic urticaria

K. Vasagar, B. M. Vonakis, L. M. Gober, A. Viksman, S. P. Gibbons, S. S. Saini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Background: Approximately 40% of chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU) subjects have autoantibodies to either FcεRIα or IgE. The effect of such autoantibodies on circulating basophil activation status is unknown. Objective: The expression of cell surface activation markers on basophils from CIU, non-allergic, and allergic subjects were compared. Further, the relationship between marker expression and serum factors reported in CIU, such as histamine-releasing activity (HRA) and immunoreactivity to FcεRIα were examined. Methods: Peripheral blood was obtained from CIU, allergic, and non-allergic donors and fractionated by density gradients. Enriched basophils (1-12%) were analysed by flow cytometry for expression of activation markers including CD63, CD69, and CD203c. Dilutions of serum (5- 50%) were analysed for HRA on basophils from a normal donor. Serum was tested for immunoreactivity by western blotting to a standard cell lysate prepared from an RBL-SX38 cell line transfected with human FcεRIα. Results: CIU subjects (n = 9) and allergic subjects (n = 8) exhibited enhanced expression of CD63 and CD69, as compared with non-allergic subjects (n = 7); however, no difference was seen among groups for CD203c expression. Five CIU and two non-allergic subjects had evidence of significant serum HRA (> 20%), whereas two CIU, two allergic, and three non-allergic subjects had evidence of serum immunoreactivity to FcεRIα. Serum HRA and serum immunoreactivity to FcεRIα were not associated with enhanced surface marker expression. Conclusion: Basophil activation marker expression is increased in CIU subjects and is not associated with serum factors. In addition, serum HRA and FcεRIα immunoreactivity are not unique to CIU, or related to enhanced circulating basophil marker expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)770-776
Number of pages7
JournalClinical and Experimental Allergy
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2006


  • Autoantibodies
  • Basophils
  • Cell surface markers
  • Cellular activation
  • Chronic urticaria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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