Tolerability of aztreonam and carbapenems in patients with IgE-mediated hypersensitivity to penicillins

Francesco Gaeta, Rocco Luigi Valluzzi, Cristiana Alonzi, Michela Maggioletti, Cristiano Caruso, Antonino Romano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Studies performed on samples larger than 100 subjects with a documented IgE-mediated hypersensitivity to penicillins have demonstrated a cross-reactivity rate of approximately 1% between penicillins and both imipenem and meropenem, whereas a single study found a cross-reactivity rate of 6.2% with aztreonam in 16 such subjects. Objective To assess the cross-reactivity and tolerability of aztreonam and 3 carbapenems (imipenem-cilastatin, meropenem, and ertapenem) in patients with documented IgE-mediated hypersensitivity to penicillins. Methods A total of 212 consecutive subjects with immediate reactions to penicillins and positive results on skin tests to at least 1 penicillin reagent underwent skin tests with aztreonam and carbapenems; subjects with negative results were challenged with escalating doses of aztreonam and carbapenems. Results All subjects displayed negative skin test results to both aztreonam and carbapenems; 211 accepted challenges and tolerated them. Challenges were not followed by full therapeutic courses. Conclusions These data indicate the tolerability of both aztreonam and carbapenems in penicillin-allergic subjects. In those who especially require these alternative β-lactams, however, we recommend pretreatment skin tests, both because rare cases of cross-reactivity have been reported and because negative results indicate tolerability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)972-976
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2015


  • Aztreonam
  • cross-reactivity
  • ertapenem
  • imipenem
  • meropenem
  • penicillin allergy
  • skin tests
  • tolerability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Medicine(all)


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