Anaphylactic reactions to low-molecular weight chemicals

Low-molecular weight chemicals (haptens) include a large group of chemical compounds occurring in work environment, items of everyday use (cleaning products, clothing, footwear, gloves, furniture), jewellery (earrings, bracelets), drugs, especially in cosmetics. They cause type IV hypersensitive reactions. During the induction phase of delayed-type hypersensitivity, haptens form complexes with skin proteins. After internalisation through antigen presenting cells, they are bound to MHC class II molecules. Next, they are exposed against specific T-lymphocytes, what triggers activation of Th1 cells mainly. After repeating exposition to that hapten, during effector phase, Th1 induce production of cytokines affecting non-specific inflammatory cells. Usually, it causes contact dermatitis. However, occasionally incidence of immediate generalised reactions after contact with some kinds of haptens is noticed. A question arises, how the hapten does induce symptoms which are typical for anaphylaxis, and what contributes to amplification of this mechanism. It seems that this phenomenon arises from pathomechanism occurring in contact urticaria syndrome in which an anaphylactic reaction may be caused either by contact of sensitised skin with protein antigens, high-molecular weight allergens, or haptens. One of the hypotheses indicates the leading role of basophiles in this process. Their contact with haptens, may cause to release mediators of immediate allergic reaction (histamine, eicosanoids) and to produce cytokines corresponding to Th2 cells profile. Furthermore, Th17 lymphocytes secreting pro-inflammatory interleukin-17 might be engaged into amplifying hypersensitivity into immediate reactions and regulatory T-cells may play role in the process, due to insufficient control of the activity of effector cells.

Authors: Nowak D, Panaszek B. ;Full Source: Postepy Hig Med Dosw (Online). 2015 Feb 6;69:197-206. ;