Anaphylaxis historical perspective

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1], Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Dushka Riaz, MD


The term comes from the Greek words ana (against) and phylaxis (protection).


Anaphylaxis was first discovered by Charles Richet and Paul Portier, who were French physiologists in 1913. [1] During their study of Physalia, Portugese man- o -war toxin, they began a series of experiments on a dog. They injected the toxin in the dog and repeated this days later. [2] They found an exaggerated immune response resulting in the dog experiencing collapse of the airway, breathing, and circulatory systems. [1] They named it anaphylaxis as they felt the phenomenon was the opposite of protection, or prophylaxis. [3] Richet was awarded a Noble Prize for his work in 1913. [4]

Landmark Events in the Development of Treatment Strategies

In the year 1937, Daniel Bovet discovered antihistamines, and cortisone was introduced in the year 1949. [5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Ring J, Behrendt H, de Weck A (2010). "History and classification of anaphylaxis". Chem Immunol Allergy. 95: 1–11. doi:10.1159/000315934. PMID 20519878.
  2. Tan SY, Yamanuha J (2010). "Charles Robert Richet (1850-1935): discoverer of anaphylaxis". Singapore Med J. 51 (3): 184–5. PMID 20428737.
  3. Richet G (2003). "[The discovery of anaphylaxis, a brief but triumphant encounter of two physiologists (1902)]". Hist Sci Med. 37 (4): 463–9. PMID 14989211.
  4. Mazana J, Ariño MR (1991). "Charles Robert Richet and some milestones in the history of allergies". J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol. 1 (2): 93–100. PMID 1669573.
  5. LoVerde D, Iweala OI, Eginli A, Krishnaswamy G (2018). "Anaphylaxis". Chest. 153 (2): 528–543. doi:10.1016/j.chest.2017.07.033. PMC 6026262. PMID 28800865.

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