Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology

, Volume 51, Issue 2, pp 162–169 | Cite as

Angioedema Phenotypes: Disease Expression and Classification

  • Maddalena Alessandra Wu
  • Francesca Perego
  • Andrea Zanichelli
  • Marco Cicardi


Due to marked heterogeneity of clinical presentations, comprehensive knowledge of angioedema phenotypes is crucial for correct diagnosis and choosing the appropriate therapeutic approach. One of the ways to a meaningful clinical distinction can be made between forms of angioedema occurring “with or without wheals.” Angioedema with wheals (rash) is a hallmark of urticaria, either acute or chronic, spontaneous or inducible. Angioedema without wheals may still be manifested in about 10 % of patients with urticaria, but it may also occur as a separate entity. Several classifications of angioedema as part of urticaria were published over time, while a latest one, released in 2014 (HAWK group consensus, see below), provided a classification of all forms of “angioedema without wheals” distinct from urticaria, which will be the focus of the present review. At this time, the HAWK consensus classification is the best in terms of covering the pathophysiology, mediators involved, angioedema triggers, and clinical expression. According to this classification, three types of hereditary angioedema (genetic C1-INH deficiency, normal C1-INH with factor XII mutations, and unknown origin) and four types of acquired angioedema (C1-INH deficiency, related to ACE inhibitors intake, idiopathic histaminergic, and idiopathic non-histaminergic) are presented. We will review the distinctive clinical features of each phenotype in details.


Angioedema Classification Phenotypes Hereditary Acquired Wheals Urticaria 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maddalena Alessandra Wu
    • 1
  • Francesca Perego
    • 1
  • Andrea Zanichelli
    • 1
  • Marco Cicardi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences “Luigi Sacco”University of Milan, Luigi Sacco HospitalMilanItaly

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