Response of peripheral blood basophils in subjects with chronic spontaneous urticaria during treatment with omalizumab

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Background: Treatment of patients with asthma or food allergy with omalizumab results in several consistent changes in circulating basophils. The multiple basophil phenotypes observed in patients with chronic spontaneous urticaria (CSU) present some unique attributes that may not respond in a similar fashion to patients with asthma or food allergy. As part of a clinical study on the therapeutic outcomes of omalizumab treatment in CSU, the basophil compartment was examined for changes in characteristics predicted by prior studies. Objective: This study sought to examine the changes in basophil function and its relationship to auto-antibodies in serum during treatment with omalizumab. Methods: At multiple time points before and during omalizumab treatment of patients with CSU, basophil surface IgE and FcεRI expression, cellular spleen tyrosine kinase (SYK) expression, IgE-mediated histamine release (HR), and the presence of auto-antibodies in serum were determined. Results: Three basophil phenotypes were enumerated in the clinical study and used to group results in this basophil study: subjects with (1) basopenia, (2) normal basophil numbers with normal IgE-mediated HR, and (3) normal basophil numbers with poor HR. Basopenia was highly associated with the presence of auto-antibodies to unoccupied FcεRI and basophil numbers did not change during treatment. Likewise, subjects who are basopenic showed no changes in SYK expression or HR during treatment. In basophils of subjects who are nonbasopenic, increases in SYK expression and HR showed the expected inverse relationship to starting SYK and HR levels. Treatment with omalizumab resulted in similar kinetics for decreases in surface FcεRI and IgE in all 3 groups. Conclusions: A unifying interpretation of the results revolves around the presence of auto-antibodies to FcεRI in CSU. If present, basopenia and an absence of changes in basophils during omalizumab treatment are observed. If auto-antibodies are absent, the changes in the basophil compartment are consistent with prior studies of asthma and food allergy. These group differences also are related to efficacy of the treatment for clinical outcomes, as found in the parent clinical study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2295-2304.e12
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Human
  • allergy
  • auto-antibodies
  • basophil
  • phenotypes
  • signal transduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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