In previous publications (1, 2 and 5), attention has been called to the fact that patients suffering from thromboangiitis obliterans have a skin hypersensitiveness to tobacco and, in some cases, to other allergens (frequently inhalants (1, 5). This is demonstrable by the fact that these patients react with immediate wheal reactions to the intradermal injection of the allergens in question.2
In the following, we report the results of passive transference experiments with the sera of 22 unselected consecutive cases of thromboangiitis obliterans; as well as with the sera of 3 patients suffering from other conditions, who also had a marked immediate wheal reaction to intradermal skin tests with tobacco.
The technic which we have employed in our passive transference experiments is one which has been used by one of us (S.) in many hundreds of experiments, during the last eight years.
Although many years of diligent research have been devoted to the subject, the question has not yet been answered, as to why only certain individuals become sensitized in asthma, hay-fever, etc. It is not surprising, therefore, that the underlying causes of this more recently studied hypersensitiveness are also beyond our knowledge. We have not discussed the question from this viewpoint because, as yet, too little is known concerning tobacco hypersensitivity.
However, it is probable that the intensity of contact and the quantity of allergen play a definite rôle in the sensitizations to tobacco.
This may constitute one reason why the subjects of thromboangiitis obliterans, who are frequently very heavy smokers (Barker), have a higher percentage of positive skin tests to tobacco than any other group we have examined (see page 88).