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Using Baseline and Peak Serum Tryptase Levels to Diagnose Anaphylaxis: a Review


The diagnosis of anaphylaxis relies on a suggestive clinical history after exposure to a potential triggering factor. Serum tryptase concentrations increase on degranulation of mast cells and therefore serum tryptase levels are measured to diagnose anaphylaxis. There is no standardized method for assessing total serum mast cell tryptase (MCT) in anaphylaxis. The Working Conference in 2010 proposed a consensus equation (peak MCT should be > 1.2x baseline tryptase + 2 ng/L) to diagnose acute mast cell activation (aMCA). Our objective was to narratively review the literature since the Working Conference in 2010, examining the use of the consensus equation and other equations comparing baseline and peak serum tryptase during anaphylaxis. Computerized bibliographic searches of PUBMED and EMBASE were supplemented with a manual search of reference lists. English-language studies were included. Eleven studies met our inclusion criteria with a total of 4551 participants. However, only four studies with 653 participants used the consensus equation. The other seven studies used other methods to compare peak and baseline serum tryptase concentrations. Measuring serum tryptase levels is valuable in the diagnosis of anaphylaxis but is unable to detect all anaphylactic reactions. Based on our current literature review, the consensus equation is underused in the diagnosis of anaphylaxis. There is also a need for exploration of other biomarkers which could be used in parallel to peak and baseline serum tryptase measurements for further diagnostic certainty. Serum tryptase is the most studied biomarker in anaphylaxis but is still far from being the ideal biomarker for this. There is a need to identify new potential useful biomarkers. Serum tryptase levels are valuable in the diagnosis of anaphylaxis, but are unable to detect all anaphylactic reactions. Additionally serial tryptase measurements are laborious in daily clinical practice.

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Fig. 1



Absolute tryptase


Body mass index


Basal tryptase


Emergency department


Immediate hypersensitivity reaction


Acute mast cell activation syndrome


Mast cell tryptase


Percentage change.


Positive predictive value


Serum tryptase


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Correspondence to Peter Jandus.

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Passia, E., Jandus, P. Using Baseline and Peak Serum Tryptase Levels to Diagnose Anaphylaxis: a Review. Clinic Rev Allerg Immunol (2020).

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  • Anaphylaxis
  • Baseline and peak serum tryptase
  • Mast cell activation
  • Mast cell tryptase