Use of Humanized Rat Basophilic Leukemia Reporter Cell Lines as a Diagnostic Tool for Detection of Allergen-Specific IgE in Allergic Patients: Time for a Reappraisal?

  • Franco H. FalconeEmail author
  • Marcos J. C. Alcocer
  • Yoshimi Okamoto-Uchida
  • Ryosuke Nakamura
Allergens (RK Bush and JA Woodfolk, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Allergens


The interaction between allergens and specific IgE is at the heart of the allergic response and as such lies at the center of techniques used for diagnosis of allergic sensitization. Although serological tests are available, in vivo tests such as double-blind placebo-controlled food challenges (DBPCFC) and skin prick test (SPT) associated to the patients’ clinical history are still the main guides to clinicians in many practices around the world. More recently, complex protein arrays and basophil activation tests, requiring only small amounts of whole blood, have been developed and refined, but are yet to enter clinical practice. Similarly, the use of rat basophilic leukemia (RBL) cell lines for detection of allergen-specific IgE has been made possible by stable transfection of the human FcεRI α chain into this cell line more than 20 years ago, but has not found widespread acceptance among clinicians. Here, we review the perceived limitations of diagnostic applications of humanized RBL systems. Furthermore, we illustrate how the introduction of reporter genes into humanized RBL cells is able to overcome most of these limitations, and has the potential to become a new powerful tool to complement the armamentarium of allergists. A demonstration of the usefulness of humanized RBL reporter systems for elucidation of complex IgE sensitization patterns against wheat proteins and a section on the use of fluorescence-based reporter systems in combination with allergen arrays close the review.


RBL RS-ATL8 NFAT-DsRed IgE Allergic sensitization Allergy diagnosis 


Compliance with Ethics Guidelines

Conflict of Interest

Drs. Falcone, Alcocer, Okamoto-Uchida, and Nakamura declare no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Franco H. Falcone
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marcos J. C. Alcocer
    • 2
  • Yoshimi Okamoto-Uchida
    • 3
  • Ryosuke Nakamura
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of Molecular and Cellular Science, School of PharmacyUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK
  2. 2.Nutritional Sciences, School of BiosciencesUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK
  3. 3.National Institute of Health SciencesTokyoJapan

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