What is sensitization to an allergen?

Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine
The first time you are stung by a bee, you'll have a normal response: It hurts. If you have a bee venom allergy, the sting also provokes B cells to produce Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies against the bee venom. The IgE antibodies stick to immune cells called mast cells, and the duos roam the body in readiness for the next exposure to bee venom. This process is called sensitization.

The next time a bee stings, the IgEs on the mast cells stick to the bee venom, prompting the mast cells to release histamines that trigger inflammation and allergic symptoms.

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