Drug hypersensitivity genetic?

Drug hypersensitivity genetic?

The most common cause for drug allergy is from IgE-mediated (allergic) reactions, such as having hives from penicillin. New research is discovering a second mechanism for drug reaction being called “drug hypersensitivity,” as it is mediated by T-lymphocytes. The reactions are different from the arch-typical “allergy” in that they tend to be somewhat delayed and different types of rashes. Examples are measles-type bumps, the life-threatening skin condition Steven-Johnson Syndrome or liver irritation.

Of great interest is that there seems to be a genetic predisposition to react to certain individual drugs. Following is a list of certain HLA (genetic) types and the drug that reacts:


Genetic Type


HLA A 31:01


HLA   A 33:03


HLA   A 68:01


HLA   A 02:06

Cold Medicines

HLA   B 56:02


HLA   B 58:01


HLA   DRB 1 11:01


HLA   DRB 1 13:02


HLA   C 04:01



Because this research is new there are lots of uncertainties. Genetic testing is expensive, and everyone with the implicated gene won’t react to the medicine. It’s too early to recommend across-the-board testing, but an awareness of possibilities, along with finding less expensive ways to do this testing, may soon lead to “genetic profiling” of all of us.

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