Food-additive-induced urticaria: A survey of 838 patients with recurrent chronic idiopathic urticaria

Gabriele Di Lorenzo, Maria Luisa Pacor, Pasquale Mansueto, Nicola Martinelli, Maria Esposito-Pellitteri, Claudia Lo Bianco, Vito Ditta, Maria Stefania Leto-Barone, Nicola Napoli, Gaetana Di Fede, Giovambattista Rini, Roberto Corrocher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Recurrent chronic idiopathic urticaria (RCIU) is a common skin condition that affects 0.1-3% of the population in the USA and Europe and accounts for nearly 75% of all 'ordinary' chronic urticaria (CU) cases. Methods: We studied 838 consecutive patients with RCIU referred to hospital between 1998 and 2003. Patients with known causes of CU were excluded. Clinical history, physical examination, and symptom diaries were evaluated during two periods, a diet-free period (1 week) and a food-additive-free diet (FAFD) period (4 weeks), respectively, and two double-blind placebo-controlled (DBPC) challenges of six food additives were administered. The first DBPC challenge included a mixture of the six food additives (DBPC mixed) given to all patients. The second DBPC challenge comprised the single food additives, administered at increasing doses (DBPC single) to patients with a positive DBPC mixed test and 105 patients with a negative DBPC mixed test, as a control. Results: The DBPC mixed challenge was positive in 116 patients. None of the 105 control patients had a positive DBPC single test. Only 31 DBPC single tests were positive in patients with positive DBPC mixed challenge. Twenty-four of the 116 patients showing a positive DBPC mixed challenge also had a positive DBPC single result. Conclusions: Our results confirmed that food additive hypersensitivity reactions occurred in few RCIU patients using DBPC single challenge. The combination of the results of FAFD and DBPC mixed challenge seems to be of considerable practical interest for allergists, internists and dermatologists, rather than the data of clinical history and the results of DBPC single challenge, in patients with RCIU.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-242
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Archives of Allergy and Immunology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005


  • Diet
  • Double-blind placebo-controlled challenge
  • Food additives
  • Urticaria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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