Background: Postmortem assessment of anaphylactic death is a challenge for forensic pathologists. One of the most frequent elicitors of anaphylaxis is insect venom. Here, a case of anaphylactic death due to Hymenoptera stings is reported to highlight the contribution of postmortem biochemistry and immunohistochemistry in assessing the cause of death. Case report: A 59-year-old Caucasian man working on his farm was presumably stung by a bee and died. He had a history of previous sensitization to insect venom. The autopsy revealed no signs of insect puncture, mild edema of the larynx, and foamy edema in the bronchial tree and lungs. Routine histology showed endo-alveolar edema and hemorrhage, bronchospasm, and scattered bronchial obstruction due to mucus hyperproduction. Biochemical analysis was performed, and serum tryptase was equal to 189 µg/L, total IgE was 200 kU/L, and specific IgE dosage was positive for bee and yellow jacket species. Immunohistochemistry for tryptase detection was carried out, revealing mast cells and degranulated tryptase expression in the larynx, lungs, spleen, and heart. These findings led to the diagnosis of anaphylactic death due to Hymenoptera stings. Conclusions: The case highlights that the role of biochemistry and immunohistochemistry in the postmortem assessment of anaphylactic reactions should be stressed by forensic practitioners.
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