Purpose of review: Insect venom allergy is an important cause of anaphylaxis. Venom immunotherapy assume the clear identification of the culprit insect, but this is impeded by Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to cross reactive carbohydrate determinant (CCD) epitopes of common glycoproteins. Here we give an overview about inducers, importance, and relevance of anti-N-Glycan CCD IgE antibodies.
Recent findings: Pollen exposure and insect stings induce anti-CCD IgE antibodies interfering with in-vitro tests for allergy diagnosis due to extensive IgE cross-reactivity. Instead of being biologically active these antibodies are irrelevant for allergic reactions due to hymenoptera stings. The general response of the immune system to the ubiquitous exposure to N-glycan containing glycoproteins is still a matter of debate. CCD specific IgG antibodies in sera of bee keepers suggest tolerance induction due to high-dose exposure. Tolerance induction by pollen and food glycoproteins has not been proved.
Summary: Hymenoptera stings and pollen exposure induce anti-CCD IgE. In regard to anaphylaxis due to Hymenoptera stings these antibodies are not clinically relevant, but they are important for the specificity of in-vitro tests proving insect venom allergy. The introduction of component based diagnostic IgE testing improves the specificity of in-vitro tests if proteins devoid of CCD epitopes are used.