Serum-induced basophil CD63 expression by means of a tricolour flow cytometric method for the in vitro diagnosis of chronic urticaria

A. Frezzolini, A. Provini, P. Teofoli, D. Pomponi, O. De Pità

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Functional autoantibodies against the α-chain of the high-affinity IgE receptor (FcεRIα) identify a subset of patients with chronic urticaria (CU) due to autoreactivity, as assessed by an in vivo positive response to autologous serum skin test (ASST). We performed a study to standardize the serum-induced basophil activation assay by flow cytometry (FCM) using a new tricolour method, assessing the diagnostic performance of this test in discriminating between ASST+ and ASST- CU patients. Methods: Sera of 64 CU patients (22 ASST+ CU and 42 ASST- CU) and 10 healthy subjects were tested for their ability to induce basophil CD63 expression when incubated with whole blood of both atopic (DA) and non-atopic donors (DNA). Using a triple-labelled strategy with anti-CD123, anti-HLA-DR and anti-CD63 antibodies, CD63+ basophils were identified on a selected population of CD123+ HLA-DR- cells. In 3 ASST+ CU patients who underwent cyclosporine therapy, the assay was performed before and after treatment. Results: The ASST+ CU sera resulted in a significant higher induction of basophil CD63 expression compared with ASST- CU and healthy donors sera; when whole blood from DA was used, sensitivity and specificity of the assay were 95.5% and 90.5% respectively. ASST+ CU serum activity was significantly decreased during cyclosporine A treatment, in parallel with clinical remission. Conclusions: Chronic urticaria serum-induced CD63 expression assay performed on DA whole blood by means of our tricolour FCM method could be the most useful tool for identification of a subset of patients with autoimmune CU and may become a promising tool also for monitoring treatment efficacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1071-1077
Number of pages7
JournalAllergy: European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2006


  • Autologous serum skin test
  • Basophils
  • CD63
  • Chronic urticaria
  • Cyclosporine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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