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Research Article

The alpha form of human tryptase is the predominant type present in blood at baseline in normal subjects and is elevated in those with systemic mastocytosis.

L B Schwartz, K Sakai, T R Bradford, S Ren, B Zweiman, A S Worobec and D D Metcalfe

Department of Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond 23298, USA.

Published December 1995

Tryptase, a protease produced by all mast cells, was evaluated as a clinical marker of systemic mastocytosis. Two sandwich immunoassays were evaluated, one which used the mAb G5 for capture, the other which used B12 for capture. The B12 capture assay measured both recombinant alpha- and beta-tryptase, whereas the G5 capture assay measured primarily recombinant beta-tryptase. G5 binds with low affinity to both recombinant alpha-tryptase and tryptase in blood from normal and nonacute mastocytosis subjects, and binds with high affinity to recombinant beta-tryptase, tryptase in serum during anaphylaxis, and tryptase stored in mast cell secretory granules. B12 recognizes all of these forms of tryptase with high affinity. As reported previously, during systemic anaphylaxis in patients without known mastocytosis, the ratio of B12- to G5-measured tryptase was always < 5 and approached unity (Schwartz L.B., T.R. Bradford, C. Rouse, A.-M. Irani, G. Rasp, J.K. Van der Zwan and P.-W.G. Van der Linden, J. Clin. Immunol. 14:190-204). In this report, most mastocytosis patients with systemic disease have B12-measured tryptase levels that are elevated (> 20 ng/ml) and are at least 10-fold greater than the corresponding G5-measured tryptase level. Most of those subjects with B12-measured tryptase levels of < 20 ng/ml had only cutaneous manifestations. The B12 assay for alpha-tryptase and beta-tryptase, particularly when performed in conjunction with the G5 assay for beta-tryptase, provides a more precise measure of mast cell involvement than currently available assessments, a promising potential screening test for systemic mastocytosis and may provide an improved means to follow disease progression and response to therapy.

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