BACKGROUND: Chronic spontaneous urticaria (CSU) is characterized by recurrent itchy weals and/or angioedema and is believed to be driven by mast cell activation. It was shown that excessive mast cell activation during anaphylaxis initiates contact activation, resulting in bradykinin release. Evidence for bradykinin release was never demonstrated in CSU.
OBJECTIVE: To study biomarkers of bradykinin release in CSU.
METHODS: Plasma samples of CSU patients were collected during routine visits at the outpatient clinic. Cleaved high molecular weight kininogen (cHK) was used as a biomarker for bradykinin release. cHK, factor XIIa-C1-inhibitor (FXIIa-C1-INH), kallikrein-C1-INH, plasmin-antiplasmin (PAP) complexes and soluble urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor (suPAR) levels were determined by ELISA. Clinical data and data on tryptase levels were collected from medical records. cHK levels were compared to previously determined levels in hereditary angioedema (HAE).
RESULTS: One hundred seventeen samples from 88 CSU patients and 28 samples from healthy controls were analysed. Median cHK level in CSU was 9.1% (range: 1.4%-21.5%), significantly increased compared to healthy controls (median 6.0% range: 0%-19.9%; P = .0005) and comparable to HAE (n = 46, median 10.3%, range 0%-44.3%, P > .9999). cHK levels normalized in patients during disease remission (median 6.5% range 1.5%-20.8%) but were not dependent on the presence of angioedema, acute angioedema attacks or response to antihistamines. Surprisingly, cHK levels were inversely correlated to serum tryptase (r = -0.65 P = .0137). C1-INH complexes and suPAR levels were not elevated in patients compared to healthy controls. PAP-complex levels in patients were elevated compared to healthy controls but there was no correlation between PAP-complex and cHK levels.
CONCLUSIONS: cHK levels are elevated in symptomatic CSU patients compared to healthy controls, indicating increased bradykinin production. Increased cHK levels are not limited to patients with angioedema.
CLINICAL RELEVANCE: If elevated bradykinin generation has clinical implications in the pathology of CSU is open to debate. Copyright © 2020 The Authors. Clinical & Experimental Allergy published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Available from: https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cea.13558