Sulfite hypersensitivity. A critical review.CRC Crit Rev Toxicol 1987; 17(3):185-214CC
Sulfiting agents (sulfur dioxide and the sodium and potassium salts of bisulfite, sulfite, and metabisulfite) are widely used as preservatives in foods, beverages, and pharmaceuticals. Within the past 5 years, there have been numerous reports of adverse reactions to sulfiting agents. This review presents a comprehensive compilation and discussion of reports describing reactions to ingested, inhaled, and parenterally administered sulfite. Sulfite hypersensitivity is usually, but not exclusively, found within the chronic asthmatic population. Although there is some disagreement on its prevalence, a number of studies have indicated that 5 to 10% of all chronic asthmatics are sulfite hypersensitive. This review also describes respiratory sulfur dioxide sensitivity which essentially all asthmatics experience. Possible mechanisms of sulfite hypersensitivity and sulfur dioxide sensitivity are discussed in detail. Sulfite metabolism and the role of sulfite oxidase in the detoxification of exogenous sulfite are reviewed in relationship to the etiology of sulfite hypersensitivity.