β-Lactam Antibiotics Form Distinct Haptenic Structures on Albumin and Activate Drug-Specific T-Lymphocyte Responses in Multiallergic Patients with Cystic Fibrosis - Chemical Research in Toxicology (ACS Publications)
β-Lactam antibiotics provide the cornerstone of treatment for respiratory exacerbations in patients with cystic fibrosis. Unfortunately, approximately 20% of patients develop multiple nonimmediate allergic reactions that restrict therapeutic options. The purpose of this study was to explore the chemical and immunological basis of multiple β-lactam allergy through the analysis of human serum albumin (HSA) covalent binding profiles and T-cell responses against 3 commonly prescribed drugs; piperacillin, meropenem, and aztreonam. The chemical structures of the drug haptens were defined by mass spectrometry. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were isolated from 4 patients with multiple allergic reactions and cultured with piperacillin, meropenem, and aztreonam. PBMC responses were characterized using the lymphocyte transformation test and IFN-γ /IL-13 ELIspot. T-cell clones were generated from drug-stimulated T-cell lines and characterized in terms of phenotype, function, and cross-reactivity. Piperacillin, meropenem, and aztreonam formed complex and structurally distinct haptenic structures with lysine residues on HSA. Each drug modified Lys190 and at least 6 additional lysine residues in a time- and concentration-dependent manner. PBMC proliferative responses and cytokine release were detected with cells from the allergic patients, but not tolerant controls, following exposure to the drugs. 122 CD4+, CD8+, or CD4+CD8+ T-cell clones isolated from the allergic patients were found to proliferate and release cytokines following stimulation with piperacillin, meropenem, or aztreonam. Cross-reactivity with the different drugs was not observed. In conclusion, our data show that piperacillin-, meropenem-, and aztreonam-specific T-cell responses are readily detectable in allergic patients with cystic fibrosis, which indicates that multiple β-lactam allergies are instigated through priming of naïve T-cells against the different drug antigens. Characterization of complex haptenic structures on distinct HSA lysine residues provides a chemical basis for the drug-specific T-cell response.