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Polysorbate 80 (Tween® 80) is the most extensively used surfactant in parenteral drug formulation. Its application as an adjunct for intravenous drug administration is approved by the Food and Drug Administration. However, severe hypersensitive reactions, which are typical non-immune anaphylactic reactions (pseudoallergy) characterized by the release of histamine and unvaried IgE antibodies, have been associated with Tween® 80. In order to explore the non-immune anaphylactic mechanisms of Tween® 80, we performed in vivo experiments to assess the changes in physiological and hematologic indicators after intravenous injection of Tween® 80 into dogs. Tween® 80 induced the release of histamine, and a 2-fold increase in SC5b-9, 2.5-fold increase in C4d, 1.3-fold increase in Bb, while IgE remained unchanged. It also produced changes in pulmonary pressure, systemic pressure and ECG. In in vitro experiments, Tween® 80 was incubated with dog serum in the presence of an inhibitor of complement activation (EGTA/Mg(2+)). Under these conditions, Tween® 80 increased the contents of C4d and Bb. The results of this study reveal that Tween® 80 can cause cardiopulmonary distress in dogs and activate the complement system through classical and alternative pathways as indicated in both in vivo and in vitro preparations. Moreover, they demonstrate the utility of the beagle dog as an animal model for the study of complement activation-related pseudoallergy. These findings raise concerns with regard to the indiscriminate use of Tween® 80 in clinical applications. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Shidong Qiu, Zhaohua Liu, Li Hou, Yuanyuan Li, Jiao Wang, Hong Wang, Wu Du, Wenfang Wang, Yizhuo Qin, Zhaoping Liu. Complement activation associated with polysorbate 80 in beagle dogs. International immunopharmacology. 2013 Jan;15(1):144-9

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PMID: 23159336

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