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Urticaria pigmentosa and systemic mastocytosis

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Chin‐Yee, Benjamin 
Hsia, Cyrus C. 
Robertson, Kara 


Key Clinical Message: Additional investigations for systemic involvement should be initiated once the diagnosis of cutaneous mastocytosis has been established in an adult patient. A serum tryptase can serve as a screening test for systemic mastocytosis, and persistent elevations should prompt further investigations, such as bone marrow studies. Abstract: Urticaria pigmentosa (UP) is the most common form of cutaneous mastocytosis, presenting as a wide variety of macroscopic appearances. Cutaneous mastocytosis in pediatric patients usually does not present with systemic involvement, but more than half of adult patients with cutaneous mastocytosis demonstrate systemic involvement. Currently, there is no guidance surrounding systemic testing in patients with UP. A 50‐year‐old Caucasian male was referred to the Clinical Immunology and Allergy clinic with a history of a rash. He initially presented to hospital 12 years prior with group A beta hemolytic streptococcus bacteremia treated with multiple different antibiotics. One week following discharge, he developed erythematous brown spots on his right leg which were flat, non‐pruritic, and not painful. The rash later expanded to his trunk and extremities. A skin biopsy performed 2 years prior to referral to our clinic demonstrated urticaria pigmentosa. The CD117 immunohistochemical stain showed increased perivascular and interstitial mast cells in the superficial dermis. Darier's sign was negative on physical examination, and venom testing was also negative. Although he had no symptoms of systemic involvement, his serum tryptase was elevated at 47.6 ng/mL in the context of normal kidney and liver function. A skeletal survey was normal, and an abdominal ultrasound ruled out splenomegaly. Bone marrow biopsy demonstrated a mild increase in paratrabecular and perivascular atypical mast cells, in keeping with systemic mastocytosis. Adult patients with cutaneous mastocytosis have a high likelihood of having an underlying systemic mast cell disorder. Therefore, any patient presenting with characteristic skin findings should be investigated as having a cutaneous manifestation of systemic mastocytosis. This case demonstrates the utility of serum tryptase and its role in triggering additional investigations and guiding appropriate therapy.


Publication status: Published


urticaria pigmentosa, systemic mastocytosis, cutaneous mastocytosis

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