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Prediction of the Efficacy of Antihistamines in Chronic Spontaneous Urticaria Based on Initial Suppression of the Histamine- Induced Wheal

Sánchez J1,2,3, Zakzuk J1,2, Cardona R3

1Foundation for the Development of Medical and Biological Sciences (FUNDEMEB), Cartagena, Colombia
2Institute for Immunological Research, Universidad de Cartagena, Cartagena, Colombia
3Group of Clinical and Experimental Allergy, IPS Universitaria Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia

J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2016; Vol 26(3) : 177-184
doi: 10.18176/jiaci.0039

Background: Antihistamines are the first line of treatment for chronic spontaneous urticaria. However, there is no effective method to predict whether an antihistamine will have a beneficial clinical effect or not.

Objective: To assess whether the change in histamine-induced wheal and flare measurements 24 hours after administration of antihistamine can predict the efficacy of treatment.

Methods: We performed a multicenter, triple-blind, randomized study. Patients received a daily oral dose of cetirizine, fexofenadine, bilastine, desloratadine, or ebastine over 8 weeks. After 4 weeks, a higher dose of antihistamine was administered to patients who did not experience a clinical response. A histamine skin prick test was carried out at baseline and 24 hours after the first dose of antihistamine. Disease severity (Urticaria Activity Score [UAS]), response to the histamine skin prick test, and impact on the patient’s quality of life (Dermatology Life Quality Index [DLQI]) were determined every 2 weeks.

Results: The study population comprised 150 patients (30 per group) and 30 controls. Twenty-four hours after administration of antihistamine, inhibition of the histamine wheal by >75% was significantly associated with better UAS and DLQI scores. The safety and efficacy of the 5 antihistamines were similar. After updosing, rates of disease control (DLQI score <5) increased from 58.7% to 76.7%.

Conclusions: Measurement of the histamine-induced wheal can predict which patients will have a strong clinical response to antihistamines but has limited utility for identifying nonresponders. The clinical significance of these data could be relevant in the search for new urticaria treatment regimens.

Key words: Urticaria. Antihistamine. Histamine. Efficacy. Safety. Cetirizine. Bilastine. Fexofenadine. Ebastine. Desloratadine.