A histamine release assay to identify sensitization to Culicoides allergens in horses with skin hypersensitivity.Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2008 Dec 15; 126(3-4):302-8.VI
Skin hypersensitivity is an allergic disease induced in horses by allergens of Culicoides midges. The condition is typically diagnosed by clinical signs and in some horses in combination with allergy testing such as intradermal skin testing or serological allergen-specific IgE determination. Here, we describe an alternative method for allergy testing: a histamine release assay (HRA) that combines the functional aspects of skin testing with the convenience of submitting a blood sample. The assay is based on the principle that crosslinking of allergen-specific IgE bound via high-affinity IgE receptors to the surfaces of mast cells and basophils induces the release of inflammatory mediators. One of these mediators is histamine. The histamine was then detected by a colorimetric enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The histamine assay was used to test 33 horses with skin hypersensitivity and 20 clinically healthy control animals for histamine release from their peripheral blood basophils after stimulation with Culicoides allergen extract or monoclonal anti-IgE antibody. An increased histamine release was observed in the horses with skin hypersensitivity compared to the control group after allergen-specific stimulation with Culicoides extract (p=0.023). In contrast, stimulation with anti-IgE induced similar amounts of released histamine in both groups (p=0.46). For further evaluation of the HRA, we prepared a receiver operating-characteristic (ROC) curve and performed a likelihood-ratio analysis for assay interpretation. Our results suggested that the assay is a valuable diagnostic tool to identify sensitization to Culicoides allergens in horses. Because some of the clinically healthy horses also showed sensitization to Culicoides extract, the assay cannot be used to distinguish allergic from non-allergic animals. The observation that sensitization is sometimes detectable in non-affected animals suggested that clinically healthy horses use immune mechanisms to control the reaction to Culicoides allergens that are different or absent in allergic horses.