1. July 2021
Insect venom allergy and mastocytosis – a dangerous combination

People with an insect allergy also have an increased risk of having too many mastocytes in the body. These are cells that cause an allergic reaction. As a result, such people also have an increased risk of developing a severe anaphylactic reaction.


Nearly .1 per cent of people with insect venom allergies have what is called mastocytosis. It does not sound like much, but is still 10 times higher than in people without allergies. Mastocytosis is a disease of the bone marrow that is known to lead to severe, even life-threatening allergic reactions. A life-threatening reaction is often the only indication leading to a diagnosis of mastocytosis in the first place.


“Even though there is mounting interest, mast cell diseases are quite understudied; there are probably many people who go through life as some sort of ‘medical mystery’, unaware of that diagnosis”, says Charles Schuler, an allergy expert at the University of Michigan, USA, and the lead investigator of the study.


The study is also important for people who are receiving venom desensitisation immunotherapy. If a patient’s tryptase levels are elevated, this may indicate that they are at higher risk for reaction to immunotherapy. “We need to monitor these individuals very closely”, says Schuler.


Researchers at the University of Michigan discovered by chance that the link between insect venom allergy and mastocytosis is stronger than previously thought. In fact, they originally analysed data on more than 27 million patients from an American insurance company in order to check how well patients were being treated in their hospitals.



EUREKALERT. Bone marrow disorder nearly 10-times more common in those with venom allergy. Pressemitteilung des Presseportals der American Association fort he Advancement of Science (AAAS), Washington DC, USA, vom 18.05.2021. Letzter Download am 14.06.2021.


Schuler CF et al. Prevalence of mastocytosis and hymenoptera venom allergy in the United States. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2021;S0091-6749(21)00652-7