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1.  Subtropical grass pollen allergens are important for allergic respiratory diseases in subtropical regions 
Grass pollen allergens are a major cause of allergic respiratory disease but traditionally prescribing practice for grass pollen allergen-specific immunotherapy has favoured pollen extracts of temperate grasses. Here we aim to compare allergy to subtropical and temperate grass pollens in patients with allergic rhinitis from a subtropical region of Australia.
Sensitization to pollen extracts of the subtropical Bahia grass (Paspalum notatum), Johnson grass (Sorghum halepense) and Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) as well as the temperate Ryegrass (Lolium perenne) were measured by skin prick in 233 subjects from Brisbane. Grass pollen-specific IgE reactivity was tested by ELISA and cross-inhibition ELISA.
Patients with grass pollen allergy from a subtropical region showed higher skin prick diameters with subtropical Bahia grass and Bermuda grass pollens than with Johnson grass and Ryegrass pollens. IgE reactivity was higher with pollen of Bahia grass than Bermuda grass, Johnson grass and Ryegrass. Patients showed asymmetric cross-inhibition of IgE reactivity with subtropical grass pollens that was not blocked by temperate grass pollen allergens indicating the presence of species-specific IgE binding sites of subtropical grass pollen allergens that are not represented in temperate grass pollens.
Subtropical grass pollens are more important allergen sources than temperate grass pollens for patients from a subtropical region. Targeting allergen-specific immunotherapy to subtropical grass pollen allergens in patients with allergic rhinitis in subtropical regions could improve treatment efficacy thereby reducing the burden of allergic rhinitis and asthma.
PMCID: PMC3320540  PMID: 22409901
Grass pollen; Allergic rhinitis; IgE; Bahia grass pollen; Bermuda grass pollen; Ryegrass pollen
2.  Allergen immunotherapy and allergic rhinitis: false beliefs 
BMC Medicine  2013;11:255.
Over the last 100 years, several persistent misconceptions or ‘false beliefs’ have built up around allergen immunotherapy and its use in allergic rhinitis. This is perhaps because enthusiastic physicians administered complex allergen extracts to a diverse population of patients suffering from heterogeneous atopic conditions. Here, we review evidence that counters seven of these ‘false beliefs.’
1. The symptoms of allergic rhinitis can be more heterogeneous, more severe and more troublesome in everyday life than many physicians believe. Large-scale epidemiological surveys show that the majority of allergic rhinitis patients have at least one symptom severe enough to interfere with sleep quality, productivity and/or well-being. 2. Allergen immunotherapy is not necessarily suitable for all allergic rhinitis patients (notably those with mild symptoms). Recent evidence from double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trials suggests that the more severe the disease, the greater the treatment effect. 3. Allergen immunotherapy is often accused of lack of efficacy (relative to pharmacotherapy, for example). However, there are now many meta-analyses, systematic reviews and high-quality clinical trials that find overwhelmingly in favor of the efficacy of allergen immunotherapy (including sublingual formulations) in allergic rhinitis induced by pollen and, increasingly, other allergens. 4. Natural-exposure and challenge-chamber trials have shown that symptom relief may become apparent within months or even weeks of the initiation of allergen immunotherapy. 5. In pollen-induced allergic rhinitis, several years of subcutaneous or sublingual allergen immunotherapy are associated with sustained clinical efficacy after subsequent treatment cessation – confirming the disease-modifying nature of this therapy. 6. Most patients seeking treatment for allergic rhinitis are polysensitized, and allergen immunotherapy has proven efficacy in large, robust clinical trials in these groups. Polysensitization is not a contraindication to allergen immunotherapy. 7. Sublingual allergen immunotherapy is safe for home administration. A recent review calculated that 1 billion doses were administered worldwide between 2000 and 2010 and found that the 11 case reports of anaphylaxis (all non-fatal) corresponded to non-standard practice.
Modern, evidence-based medicine has generated more than enough robust evidence to remove misconceptions about allergen immunotherapy and allergic rhinitis.
PMCID: PMC4029303  PMID: 24314210
Allergen; Immunotherapy; Specific; Sublingual; Subcutaneous; Desensitization; Vaccination
3.  Guideline on allergen-specific immunotherapy in IgE-mediated allergic diseases 
Allergo Journal International  2014;23(8):282-319.
The present guideline (S2k) on allergen-specific immunotherapy (AIT) was established by the German, Austrian and Swiss professional associations for allergy in consensus with the scientific specialist societies and professional associations in the fields of otolaryngology, dermatology and venereology, pediatric and adolescent medicine, pneumology as well as a German patient organization (German Allergy and Asthma Association; Deutscher Allergie- und Asthmabund, DAAB) according to the criteria of the Association of the Scientific Medical Societies in Germany (Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Wissenschaftlichen Medizinischen Fachgesellschaften, AWMF).
AIT is a therapy with disease-modifying effects. By administering allergen extracts, specific blocking antibodies, toler-ance-inducing cells and mediators are activated. These prevent further exacerbation of the allergen-triggered immune response, block the specific immune response and attenuate the inflammatory response in tissue.
Products for SCIT or SLIT cannot be compared at present due to their heterogeneous composition, nor can allergen concentrations given by different manufacturers be compared meaningfully due to the varying methods used to measure their active ingredients. Non-modified allergens are used for SCIT in the form of aqueous or physically adsorbed (depot) extracts, as well as chemically modified allergens (allergoids) as depot extracts. Allergen extracts for SLIT are used in the form of aqueous solutions or tablets.
The clinical efficacy of AIT is measured using various scores as primary and secondary study endpoints. The EMA stipulates combined symptom and medication scores as primary endpoint. A harmonization of clinical endpoints, e. g., by using the combined symptom and medication scores (CSMS) recommended by the EAACI, is desirable in the future in order to permit the comparison of results from different studies. The current CONSORT recommendations from the ARIA/GA2LEN group specify standards for the evaluation, presentation and publication of study results.
According to the Therapy allergen ordinance (TAV), preparations containing common allergen sources (pollen from grasses, birch, alder, hazel, house dust mites, as well as bee and wasp venom) need a marketing authorization in Germany. During the marketing authorization process, these preparations are examined regarding quality, safety and efficacy. In the opinion of the authors, authorized allergen preparations with documented efficacy and safety, or preparations tradeable under the TAV for which efficacy and safety have already been documented in clinical trials meeting WAO or EMA standards, should be preferentially used. Individual formulations (NPP) enable the prescription of rare allergen sources (e.g., pollen from ash, mugwort or ambrosia, mold Alternaria, animal allergens) for specific immunotherapy. Mixing these allergens with TAV allergens is not permitted.
Allergic rhinitis and its associated co-morbidities (e. g., bronchial asthma) generate substantial direct and indirect costs. Treatment options, in particular AIT, are therefore evaluated using cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analyses. From a long-term perspective, AIT is considered to be significantly more cost effective in allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma than pharmacotherapy, but is heavily dependent on patient compliance.
Meta-analyses provide unequivocal evidence of the efficacy of SCIT and SLIT for certain allergen sources and age groups. Data from controlled studies differ in terms of scope, quality and dosing regimens and require product-specific evaluation. Therefore, evaluating individual preparations according to clearly defined criteria is recommended. A broad transfer of the efficacy of certain preparations to all preparations administered in the same way is not endorsed. The website of the German Society for Allergology and Clinical Immunology (; DGAKI: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Allergologie und klinische Immunologie) provides tables with specific information on available products for AIT in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. The tables contain the number of clinical studies per product in adults and children, the year of market authorization, underlying scoring systems, number of randomized and analyzed subjects and the method of evaluation (ITT, FAS, PP), separately given for grass pollen, birch pollen and house dust mite allergens, and the status of approval for the conduct of clinical studies with these products.
Strong evidence of the efficacy of SCIT in pollen allergy-induced allergic rhinoconjunctivitis in adulthood is well-documented in numerous trials and, in childhood and adolescence, in a few trials. Efficacy in house dust mite allergy is documented by a number of controlled trials in adults and few controlled trials in children. Only a few controlled trials, independent of age, are available for mold allergy (in particular Alternaria). With regard to animal dander allergies (primarily to cat allergens), only small studies, some with methodological deficiencies are available. Only a moderate and inconsistent therapeutic effect in atopic dermatitis has been observed in the quite heterogeneous studies conducted to date. SCIT has been well investigated for individual preparations in controlled bronchial asthma as defined by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) 2007 and intermittent and mild persistent asthma (GINA 2005) and it is recommended as a treatment option, in addition to allergen avoidance and pharmacotherapy, provided there is a clear causal link between respiratory symptoms and the relevant allergen.
The efficacy of SLIT in grass pollen-induced allergic rhinoconjunctivitis is extensively documented in adults and children, whilst its efficacy in tree pollen allergy has only been shown in adults. New controlled trials (some with high patient numbers) on house dust mite allergy provide evidence of efficacy of SLIT in adults.
Compared with allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, there are only few studies on the efficacy of SLIT in allergic asthma. In this context, newer studies show an efficacy for SLIT on asthma symptoms in the subgroup of grass pollen allergic children, adolescents and adults with asthma and efficacy in primary house dust mite allergy-induced asthma in adolescents aged from 14 years and in adults.
Aspects of secondary prevention, in particular the reduction of new sensitizations and reduced asthma risk, are important rationales for choosing to initiate treatment early in childhood and adolescence. In this context, those products for which the appropriate effects have been demonstrated should be considered.
SCIT or SLIT with pollen or mite allergens can be performed in patients with allergic rhinoconjunctivitis using allergen extracts that have been proven to be effective in at least one double-blind placebo-controlled (DBPC) study. At present, clinical trials are underway for the indication in asthma due to house dust mite allergy, some of the results of which have already been published, whilst others are still awaited (see the DGAKI table “Approved/potentially completed studies” via (according to When establishing the indication for AIT, factors that favour clinical efficacy should be taken into consideration. Differences between SCIT and SLIT are to be considered primarily in terms of contraindications. In individual cases, AIT may be justifiably indicated despite the presence of contraindications.
SCIT injections and the initiation of SLIT are performed by a physician experienced in this type of treatment and who is able to administer emergency treatment in the case of an allergic reaction. Patients must be fully informed about the procedure and risks of possible adverse events, and the details of this process must be documented (see “Treatment information sheet”; available as a handout via Treatment should be performed according to the manufacturer‘s product information leaflet. In cases where AIT is to be performed or continued by a different physician to the one who established the indication, close cooperation is required in order to ensure that treatment is implemented consistently and at low risk. In general, it is recommended that SCIT and SLIT should only be performed using preparations for which adequate proof of efficacy is available from clinical trials.
Treatment adherence among AIT patients is lower than assumed by physicians, irrespective of the form of administration. Clearly, adherence is of vital importance for treatment success. Improving AIT adherence is one of the most important future goals, in order to ensure efficacy of the therapy.
Severe, potentially life-threatening systemic reactions during SCIT are possible, but – providing all safety measures are adhered to – these events are very rare. Most adverse events are mild to moderate and can be treated well.
Dose-dependent adverse local reactions occur frequently in the mouth and throat in SLIT. Systemic reactions have been described in SLIT, but are seen far less often than with SCIT. In terms of anaphylaxis and other severe systemic reactions, SLIT has a better safety profile than SCIT.
The risk and effects of adverse systemic reactions in the setting of AIT can be effectively reduced by training of personnel, adhering to safety standards and prompt use of emergency measures, including early administration of i. m. epinephrine. Details on the acute management of anaphylactic reactions can be found in the current S2 guideline on anaphylaxis issued by the AWMF (S2-AWMF-LL Registry Number 061-025).
AIT is undergoing some innovative developments in many areas (e. g., allergen characterization, new administration routes, adjuvants, faster and safer dose escalation protocols), some of which are already being investigated in clinical trials.
Cite this as Pfaar O, Bachert C, Bufe A, Buhl R, Ebner C, Eng P, Friedrichs F, Fuchs T, Hamelmann E, Hartwig-Bade D, Hering T, Huttegger I, Jung K, Klimek L, Kopp MV, Merk H, Rabe U, Saloga J, Schmid-Grendelmeier P, Schuster A, Schwerk N, Sitter H, Umpfenbach U, Wedi B, Wöhrl S, Worm M, Kleine-Tebbe J. Guideline on allergen-specific immunotherapy in IgE-mediated allergic diseases – S2k Guideline of the German Society for Allergology and Clinical Immunology (DGAKI), the Society for Pediatric Allergy and Environmental Medicine (GPA), the Medical Association of German Allergologists (AeDA), the Austrian Society for Allergy and Immunology (ÖGAI), the Swiss Society for Allergy and Immunology (SGAI), the German Society of Dermatology (DDG), the German Society of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology, Head and Neck Surgery (DGHNO-KHC), the German Society of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine (DGKJ), the Society for Pediatric Pneumology (GPP), the German Respiratory Society (DGP), the German Association of ENT Surgeons (BV-HNO), the Professional Federation of Paediatricians and Youth Doctors (BVKJ), the Federal Association of Pulmonologists (BDP) and the German Dermatologists Association (BVDD). Allergo J Int 2014;23:282–319
PMCID: PMC4479478  PMID: 26120539
allergen-specific immunotherapy; AIT; Hyposensitization; guideline; allergen; allergen extract; allergic disease; allergic rhinitis; allergic asthma
4.  Active or Passive Exposure to Tobacco Smoking and Allergic Rhinitis, Allergic Dermatitis, and Food Allergy in Adults and Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(3):e1001611.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis, Bahi Takkouche and colleagues examine the associations between exposure to tobacco smoke and allergic disorders in children and adults.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Allergic rhinitis, allergic dermatitis, and food allergy are extremely common diseases, especially among children, and are frequently associated to each other and to asthma. Smoking is a potential risk factor for these conditions, but so far, results from individual studies have been conflicting. The objective of this study was to examine the evidence for an association between active smoking (AS) or passive exposure to secondhand smoke and allergic conditions.
Methods and Findings
We retrieved studies published in any language up to June 30th, 2013 by systematically searching Medline, Embase, the five regional bibliographic databases of the World Health Organization, and ISI-Proceedings databases, by manually examining the references of the original articles and reviews retrieved, and by establishing personal contact with clinical researchers. We included cohort, case-control, and cross-sectional studies reporting odds ratio (OR) or relative risk (RR) estimates and confidence intervals of smoking and allergic conditions, first among the general population and then among children.
We retrieved 97 studies on allergic rhinitis, 91 on allergic dermatitis, and eight on food allergy published in 139 different articles. When all studies were analyzed together (showing random effects model results and pooled ORs expressed as RR), allergic rhinitis was not associated with active smoking (pooled RR, 1.02 [95% CI 0.92–1.15]), but was associated with passive smoking (pooled RR 1.10 [95% CI 1.06–1.15]). Allergic dermatitis was associated with both active (pooled RR, 1.21 [95% CI 1.14–1.29]) and passive smoking (pooled RR, 1.07 [95% CI 1.03–1.12]). In children and adolescent, allergic rhinitis was associated with active (pooled RR, 1.40 (95% CI 1.24–1.59) and passive smoking (pooled RR, 1.09 [95% CI 1.04–1.14]). Allergic dermatitis was associated with active (pooled RR, 1.36 [95% CI 1.17–1.46]) and passive smoking (pooled RR, 1.06 [95% CI 1.01–1.11]). Food allergy was associated with SHS (1.43 [1.12–1.83]) when cohort studies only were examined, but not when all studies were combined.
The findings are limited by the potential for confounding and bias given that most of the individual studies used a cross-sectional design. Furthermore, the studies showed a high degree of heterogeneity and the exposure and outcome measures were assessed by self-report, which may increase the potential for misclassification.
We observed very modest associations between smoking and some allergic diseases among adults. Among children and adolescents, both active and passive exposure to SHS were associated with a modest increased risk for allergic diseases, and passive smoking was associated with an increased risk for food allergy. Additional studies with detailed measurement of exposure and better case definition are needed to further explore the role of smoking in allergic diseases.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
The immune system protects the human body from viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. Whenever a pathogen enters the body, immune system cells called T lymphocytes recognize specific molecules on its surface and release chemical messengers that recruit and activate other types of immune cells, which then attack the pathogen. Sometimes, however, the immune system responds to harmless materials (for example, pollen; scientists call these materials allergens) and triggers an allergic disease such as allergic rhinitis (inflammation of the inside of the nose; hay fever is a type of allergic rhinitis), allergic dermatitis (also known as eczema, a disease characterized by dry, itchy patches on the skin), and food allergy. Recent studies suggest that all these allergic (atopic) diseases are part of a continuous state called the “atopic march” in which individuals develop allergic diseases in a specific sequence that starts with allergic dermatitis during infancy, and progresses to food allergy, allergic rhinitis, and finally asthma (inflammation of the airways).
Why Was This Study Done?
Allergic diseases are extremely common, particularly in children. Allergic rhinitis alone affects 10%–30% of the world's population and up to 40% of children in some countries. Moreover, allergic diseases are becoming increasingly common. Allergic diseases affect the quality of life of patients and are financially costly to both patients and health systems. It is important, therefore, to identify the factors that cause or potentiate their development. One potential risk factor for allergic diseases is active or passive exposure to tobacco smoke. In some countries up to 80% of children are exposed to second-hand smoke so, from a public health point of view, it would be useful to know whether exposure to tobacco smoke is associated with the development of allergic diseases. Here, the researchers undertake a systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic) and a meta-analysis (a statistical approach for combining the results of several studies) to investigate this issue.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 196 observational studies (investigations that observe outcomes in populations without trying to affect these outcomes in any way) that examined the association between smoke exposure and allergic rhinitis, allergic dermatitis, or food allergy. When all studies were analyzed together, allergic rhinitis was not associated with active smoking but was slightly associated with exposure to second-hand smoke. Specifically, compared to people not exposed to second-hand smoke, the pooled relative risk (RR) of allergic rhinitis among people exposed to second-hand smoke was 1.10 (an RR of greater than 1 indicates an increased risk of disease development in an exposed population compared to an unexposed population). Allergic dermatitis was associated with both active smoking (RR = 1.21) and exposure to second-hand smoke (RR = 1.07). In the populations of children and adolescents included in the studies, allergic rhinitis was associated with both active smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke (RRs of 1.40 and 1.09, respectively), as was allergic dermatitis (RRs of 1.36 and 1.06, respectively). Finally food allergy was associated with exposure to second-hand smoke (RR = 1.43) when cohort studies (a specific type of observational study) only were examined but not when all the studies were combined.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide limited evidence for a weak association between smoke exposure and allergic disease in adults but suggest that both active and passive smoking are associated with a modestly increased risk of allergic diseases in children and adolescents. The accuracy of these findings may be affected by the use of questionnaires to assess smoke exposure and allergic disease development in most of the studies in the meta-analysis and by the possibility that individuals exposed to smoke may have shared other characteristics that were actually responsible for their increased risk of allergic diseases. To shed more light on the role of smoking in allergic diseases, additional studies are needed that accurately measure exposure and outcomes. However, the present findings suggest that, in countries where many people smoke, 14% and 13% of allergic rhinitis and allergic dermatitis, respectively, among children may be attributable to active smoking. Thus, the elimination of active smoking among children and adolescents could prevent one in seven cases of allergic rhinitis and one in eight cases of allergic dermatitis in such countries.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about allergic rhinitis, hay fever (including personal stories), allergic dermatitis (including personal stories), and food allergy (including personal stories)
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease provides information about allergic diseases
The UK not-for-profit organization Allergy UK provides information about all aspects of allergic diseases and a description of the atopic march
MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on allergic rhinitis and allergic dermatitis (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources about allergies, eczema, and food allergy (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC3949681  PMID: 24618794
5.  Sublingual immunotherapy in allergic asthma: Current evidence and needs to meet 
Annals of Thoracic Medicine  2010;5(3):128-132.
Allergen-specific immunotherapy is aimed at modifying the natural history of allergy by inducing tolerance to the causative allergen. In its traditional, subcutaneous form, immunotherapy has complete evidence of efficacy in allergic asthma. However, subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) has a major flaw in side effects, and especially in possible anaphylactic reactions, and this prompted the search for safer ways of administration of allergen extracts. Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) has met such need while maintaining a clinical efficacy comparable to SCIT. In fact, the safety profile, as outlined by a systematic revision of the available literature, was substantially free from serious systemic reactions. A number of meta-analyses clearly showed that SLIT is effective in allergic rhinitis by significantly reducing the clinical symptoms and the use of anti-allergic drugs, while the efficacy in allergic asthma is still debated, with some meta-analyses showing clear effectiveness but other giving contrasting results. Besides the efficacy on symptoms, the preventive activity and the cost-effectiveness are important outcomes of SLIT in asthma. The needs to meet include more data on efficacy in house dust mite asthma, optimal techniques of administration and, as previously done with SCIT, introduction of adjuvants able to enhance the immunologic response and use of recombinant allergens.
PMCID: PMC2930649  PMID: 20835305
Allergic asthma; efficacy; specific immunotherapy; sublingual immunotherapy; safety
6.  Allergen immunotherapy decreases interleukin 4 production in CD4+ T cells from allergic individuals 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  1993;178(6):2123-2130.
Allergen specific CD4+ T cell clones generated from allergic individuals have been shown to produce increased levels of the cytokine interleukin 4 (IL-4), compared to allergen specific clones generated from nonallergic individuals. This difference between CD4+ T cells from allergic and nonallergic individuals with regard to cytokine production in response to allergen is thought to be responsible for the development of allergic disease with increased IgE synthesis in atopic individuals. We examined the production of IL-4 in subjects with allergic rhinitis and in allergic individuals treated with allergen immunotherapy, a treatment which involves the subcutaneous administration of increasing doses of allergen and which is highly effective and beneficial for individuals with severe allergic rhinitis. We demonstrated that the quantity of IL-4 produced by allergen specific memory CD4+ T cells from allergic individuals could be considerably reduced by in vivo treatment with allergen (allergen immunotherapy). Immunotherapy reduced IL-4 production by allergen specific CD4+ T cells to levels observed with T cells from nonallergic subjects, or to levels induced with nonallergic antigens such as tetanus toxoid. In most cases the levels of IL-4 produced were inversely related to the length of time on immunotherapy. These observations indicate that immunotherapy accomplishes its clinical effects by reducing IL-4 synthesis in allergen specific CD4+ T cells. In addition, these observations indicate that the cytokine profiles of memory CD4+ T cells can indeed be altered by in vivo therapies. Thus, the cytokine profiles of memory CD4+ T cells are mutable, and are not fixed as had been suggested by studies of murine CD4+ memory T cells. Finally, treatment of allergic diseases with allergen immunotherapy may be a model for other diseases which may require therapies that alter inappropriate cytokine profiles of memory CD4+ T cells.
PMCID: PMC2191292  PMID: 7902409
7.  Sublingual Immunotherapy Induces Regulatory Function of IL-10-Expressing CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ T Cells of Cervical Lymph Nodes in Murine Allergic Rhinitis Model 
Journal of Allergy  2012;2012:490905.
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) has been considered to be a painless and efficacious therapeutic treatment of allergic rhinitis which is known as type I allergy of nasal mucosa. Nevertheless, its mechanisms need to be further investigated. In this study, we constructed an effective murine model of sublingual immunotherapy in allergic rhinitis, in which mice were sublingually administered with ovalbumin (OVA) followed by intraperitoneal sensitization and nasal challenge of OVA. Sublingually treated mice showed significantly decreased specific IgE responses as well as suppressed Th2 immune responses. Sublingual administration of OVA did not alter the frequency of CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells (Tregs), but led to upregulation of Foxp3- and IL-10-specific mRNAs in the Tregs of cervical lymph nodes (CLN), which strongly suppressed Th2 cytokine production from CD4+CD25− effector T cells in vitro. Furthermore, sublingual administration of plasmids encoding the lymphoid chemokines CCL19 and CCL21-Ser DNA together with OVA suppressed allergic responses. These results suggest that IL-10-expressing CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ Tregs in CLN are involved in the suppression of allergic responses and that CCL19/CCL21 may contribute to it in mice that received SLIT.
PMCID: PMC3483773  PMID: 23118775
8.  Role of immunotherapy in the treatment of allergic asthma 
Allergen-specific immunotherapy (SIT) induces clinical and immunological tolerance as defined by persistence of clinical benefit and associated long-term immunological parameters after cessation of treatment. Although the efficacy of SIT has been shown in terms of reducing symptoms, medication consumption and ameliorating quality of life in both allergic rhinitis and asthma, there has long been some controversies about effectiveness of SIT in the treatment of allergic asthma. The type of allergen, the dose and protocol of immunotherapy, patient selection criteria, the severity and control of asthma, all are significant contributors to the power of efficacy in allergic asthma. The initiation of SIT in allergic asthma should be considered in case of coexisting of other allergic diseases such as allergic rhinitis, unacceptable adverse effects of medications, patient’s preference to avoid long-term pharmacotherapy. Steroid sparing effect of SIT in allergic asthma is also an important benefit particularly in patients who have to use these drugs in high doses for a long-time. Symptomatic asthma is a risk factor for systemic reactions and asthma should be controlled at the time of administration of SIT. Both subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) and sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) have been found to be effective in patients with allergic asthma. Although the safety profile of SLIT seems to be better than SCIT, the results of some studies and meta-analyses suggest that the efficacy of SCIT may appear better and earlier than SLIT in children with allergic asthma.
PMCID: PMC4266834  PMID: 25516861
Asthma; Efficacy; Safety; Subcutaneous immunotherapy; Sublingual immunotherapy
9.  Evaluation of Clinical and Immunological Responses: A 2-Year Follow-Up Study in Children with Allergic Rhinitis due to House Dust Mite 
Mediators of Inflammation  2013;2013:345217.
Background. Allergic rhinitis is a disease with polarization towards Th2 and a defect of regulatory T cells. Immunological changes have been reported after immunotherapy treatment. However, there is not much known about the natural course of allergic rhinitis with respect to clinical manifestation and the relation with immunological responses. Objective. To evaluate clinical symptoms of allergic rhinitis, in relation to in vivo allergen-specific skin responses and in vitro allergen-specific effector and regulatory T cells determined at baseline and after two years. Methods. From a large trial, 59 children were randomly selected. The following variables were compared: clinical symptoms, allergen skin tests, specific IgE, T-cell proliferation, IL-5, IL-13, IFN-gamma, IL-10, TGF-beta, CD4+CD25hi cells, and Foxp3 expression. Results. Allergic symptoms had decreased after two years. Whereas skin test reactions correlated between years 0 and 2, there was no change in the size of the reaction. Also, proinflammatory reactions did not change after two years, with a positive correlation between years 0 and 2. No relevant changes were observed with respect to regulatory cells. Conclusion. Whereas, comparable to immunotherapy, allergic complaints decrease, the immunological changes of specific T-cell activity (both effector cells and regulator cells) which are observed after immunotherapy, do not change.
PMCID: PMC3655673  PMID: 23737646
10.  Greater risk of incident asthma cases in adults with Allergic Rhinitis and Effect of Allergen Immunotherapy: A Retrospective Cohort Study 
Respiratory Research  2005;6(1):153.
Asthma and rhinitis are often co-morbid conditions. As rhinitis often precedes asthma it is possible that effective treatment of allergic rhinitis may reduce asthma progression.
The aim of our study is to investigate history of allergic rhinitis as a risk factor for asthma and the potential effect of allergen immunotherapy in attenuating the incidence of asthma.
Hospital-referred non-asthmatic adults, aged 18–40 years between 1990 and 1991, were retrospectively followed up until January and April 2000. At the end of follow up, available subjects were clinically examined for asthma diagnosis and history of allergen specific immunotherapy, second-hand smoking and the presence of pets in the household. A total of 436 non-asthmatic adults (332 subjects with allergic rhinitis and 104 with no allergic rhinitis nor history of atopy) were available for final analyses.
The highest OR (odds ratio) associated with a diagnosis of asthma at the end of follow-up was for the diagnosis of allergic rhinitis at baseline (OR, 7.8; 95%CI, 3.1–20.0 in the model containing the covariates of rhinitis diagnosis, sex, second-hand smoke exposure, presence of pets at home, family history of allergic disorders, sensitization to Parietaria judaica; grass pollen; house dust mites; Olea europea: orchard; perennial rye; and cat allergens). Female sex, sensitization to Parietaria judaica and the presence of pets in the home were also significantly predictive of new onset asthma in the same model. Treatment with allergen immunotherapy was significantly and inversely related to the development of new onset asthma (OR, 0.53; 95%CI, 0.32–0.86).
In the present study we found that allergic rhinitis is an important independent risk factor for asthma. Moreover, treatment with allergen immunotherapy lowers the risk of the development of new asthma cases in adults with allergic rhinitis.
PMCID: PMC1351177  PMID: 16381607
11.  Prevention of Birch Pollen-Related Food Allergy by Mucosal Treatment with Multi-Allergen-Chimers in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39409.
Among birch pollen allergic patients up to 70% develop allergic reactions to Bet v 1-homologue food allergens such as Api g 1 (celery) or Dau c 1 (carrot), termed as birch pollen-related food allergy. In most cases, specific immunotherapy with birch pollen extracts does not reduce allergic symptoms to the homologue food allergens. We therefore genetically engineered a multi-allergen chimer and tested if mucosal treatment with this construct could represent a novel approach for prevention of birch pollen-related food allergy.
BALB/c mice were poly-sensitized with a mixture of Bet v 1, Api g 1 and Dau c 1 followed by a sublingual challenge with carrot, celery and birch pollen extracts. For prevention of allergy sensitization an allergen chimer composed of immunodominant T cell epitopes of Api g 1 and Dau c 1 linked to the whole Bet v 1 allergen, was intranasally applied prior to sensitization.
Intranasal pretreatment with the allergen chimer led to significantly decreased antigen-specific IgE-dependent β-hexosaminidase release, but enhanced allergen-specific IgG2a and IgA antibodies. Accordingly, IL-4 levels in spleen cell cultures and IL-5 levels in restimulated spleen and cervical lymph node cell cultures were markedly reduced, while IFN-γ levels were increased. Immunomodulation was associated with increased IL-10, TGF-β and Foxp3 mRNA levels in NALT and Foxp3 in oral mucosal tissues. Treatment with anti-TGF-β, anti-IL10R or anti-CD25 antibodies abrogated the suppression of allergic responses induced by the chimer.
Our results indicate that mucosal application of the allergen chimer led to decreased Th2 immune responses against Bet v 1 and its homologue food allergens Api g 1 and Dau c 1 by regulatory and Th1-biased immune responses. These data suggest that mucosal treatment with a multi-allergen vaccine could be a promising treatment strategy to prevent birch pollen-related food allergy.
PMCID: PMC3387141  PMID: 22768077
12.  T lymphocytes expressing CCR3 are increased in allergic rhinitis compared with non-allergic controls and following allergen immunotherapy 
Allergy  2007;62(1):59-65.
In T cell-associated allergic inflammation, homing of T-helper 2 (Th2) effector cells to mucosal sites may be influenced by chemokine receptor expression. Previous studies have identified CCR3 and CCR4 as putative markers of Th2 cells and CCR5 and CXCR3 as markers of Th1 cells. The aim of this study was to assess differential chemokine receptor expression from symptomatic atopic grass pollen-sensitive subjects, compared with patients on high-dose allergen injection immunotherapy (IT) and healthy controls.
We examined chemokine receptor expression (CCR1–7 and CXCR1–4) by flow cytometry of peripheral blood CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. We also depleted peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) populations of CCR3+ CD4+ cells by magnetic bead separation and cells were stimulated with grass pollen allergen for 6 days. Cytokine production was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
On freshly isolated PBMC, atopic individuals exhibited increased numbers of CCR3+ CD4+ cells compared with normal controls (P < 0.01). CCR3 expression in IT patients was reduced compared with matched atopic rhinitic controls (P < 0.05) and comparable with that observed in normal subjects. Depletion of CCR3+ CD4+ cells from allergen-stimulated PBMC cultures resulted in decreased interleukin (IL)-5 production compared with whole CD4+ populations (P < 0.05). Freshly isolated CCR3+ CD4+ cells have significantly higher intracellular IL-4 and lower IFN-γ levels than CCR3− CD4+ cells. CD4+ T cells cultured from both peripheral cells and nasal biopsies demonstrated increased expression of CCR3 in the presence of IL-4 (P < 0.05).
CCR3+ CD4+ T cells are increased in allergic rhinitis, are reduced by allergen IT, have a Th2 phenotype and contribute to allergen-specific responses. Strategies against CCR3+ T cells may be effective in human allergic diseases.
PMCID: PMC3385351  PMID: 17156343
allergens; allergic disease; CCR3; Chemokine receptors; chemokines; Immunotherapy; T cells; T-helper 2
13.  Management of allergic rhinitis 
F1000Prime Reports  2014;6:94.
In this paper, we review the current management of allergic rhinitis and new directions for future treatment. Currently, management includes pharmacotherapy, allergen avoidance and possibly immunotherapy. The simple washing of nasal cavities using isotonic saline provides a significant improvement and is useful, particularly in children. The most effective medication in persistent rhinitis used singly is topical corticosteroid, which decreases all symptoms, including ocular ones. Antihistamines reduce nasal itch, sneeze and rhinorrhea and can be used orally or topically. When intranasal antihistamine is used together with topical corticosteroid, the combination is more effective and acts more rapidly than either drug used alone. Alternative therapies, such as homeopathy, acupuncture and intranasal carbon dioxide, or devices such nasal air filters or intranasal cellulose, have produced some positive results in small trials but are not recommended by Allergic Rhinitis and its Impact on Asthma (ARIA).
In the field of allergic immunotherapy, subcutaneous and sublingual routes are currently used, the former being perhaps more efficient and the latter safer. Sublingual tablets are now available. Their efficacy compared to standard routes needs to be evaluated. Efforts have been made to develop more effective and simpler immunotherapy by modifying allergens and developing alternative routes.
Standard allergen avoidance procedures used alone do not provide positive results. A comprehensive, multi-trigger, multi-component approach is needed, including avoidance of pollutants such as cigarette smoke.
PMCID: PMC4191273  PMID: 25374672
14.  Randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial of sublingual immunotherapy in children with house dust mite allergy in primary care: study design and recruitment 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:59.
For respiratory allergic disorders in children, sublingual immunotherapy has been developed as an alternative to subcutaneous immunotherapy. Sublingual immunotherapy is more convenient, has a good safety profile and might be an attractive option for use in primary care. A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study was designed to establish the efficacy of sublingual immunotherapy with house dust mite allergen compared to placebo treatment in 6 to18-year-old children with allergic rhinitis and a proven house dust mite allergy in primary care. Described here are the methodology, recruitment phases, and main characteristics of the recruited children.
Recruitment took place in September to December of 2005 and 2006. General practitioners (in south-west Netherlands) selected children who had ever been diagnosed with allergic rhinitis. Children and parents could respond to a postal invitation. Children who responded positively were screened by telephone using a nasal symptom score. After this screening, an inclusion visit took place during which a blood sample was taken for the RAST test.
A total of 226 general practitioners invited almost 6000 children: of these, 51% was male and 40% <12 years of age. The target sample size was 256 children; 251 patients were finally included. The most frequent reasons given for not participating were: absence or mildness of symptoms, absence of house dust mite allergy, and being allergic to grass pollen or tree pollen only. Asthma symptoms were reported by 37% of the children. Of the enrolled children, 71% was sensitized to both house dust mite and grass pollen. Roughly similar proportions of children were diagnosed as being sensitized to one, two, three or four common inhalant allergens.
Our study was designed in accordance with recent recommendations for research on establishing the efficacy of sublingual immunotherapy; 98% of the target sample size was achieved. This study is expected to provide useful information on sublingual immunotherapy with house dust mite allergen in primary care. The results on efficacy and safety are expected to be available by 2010.
Trial registration
the trial is registered as ISRCTN91141483 (Dutch Trial Register)
PMCID: PMC2577674  PMID: 18937864
15.  Health economic comparison of SLIT allergen and SCIT allergoid immunotherapy in patients with seasonal grass-allergic rhinoconjunctivitis in Germany 
Allergoids are chemically modified allergen extracts administered to reduce allergenicity and to maintain immunogenicity. Oralair® (the 5-grass tablet) is a sublingual native grass allergen tablet for pre- and co-seasonal treatment. Based on a literature review, meta-analysis, and cost-effectiveness analysis the relative effects and costs of the 5-grass tablet versus a mix of subcutaneous allergoid compounds for grass pollen allergic rhinoconjunctivitis were assessed.
A Markov model with a time horizon of nine years was used to assess the costs and effects of three-year immunotherapy treatment. Relative efficacy expressed as standardized mean differences was estimated using an indirect comparison on symptom scores extracted from available clinical trials. The Rhinitis Symptom Utility Index (RSUI) was applied as a proxy to estimate utility values for symptom scores. Drug acquisition and other medical costs were derived from published sources as well as estimates for resource use, immunotherapy persistence, and occurrence of asthma. The analysis was executed from the German payer’s perspective, which includes payments of the Statutory Health Insurance (SHI) and additional payments by insurants. Comprehensive deterministic and probabilistic sensitivity analyses and different scenarios were performed to test the uncertainty concerning the incremental model outcomes.
The applied model predicted a cost-utility ratio of the 5-grass tablet versus a market mix of injectable allergoid products of € 12,593 per QALY in the base case analysis. Predicted incremental costs and QALYs were € 458 (95% confidence interval, CI: € 220; € 739) and 0.036 (95% CI: 0.002; 0.078), respectively. Compared to the allergoid mix the probability of the 5-grass tablet being the most cost-effective treatment option was predicted to be 76% at a willingness-to-pay threshold of € 20,000. The results were most sensitive to changes in efficacy estimates, duration of the pollen season, and immunotherapy persistence rates.
This analysis suggests the sublingual native 5-grass tablet to be cost-effective relative to a mix of subcutaneous allergoid compounds. The robustness of these statements has been confirmed in extensive sensitivity and scenario analyses.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13601-015-0045-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4330981  PMID: 25691953
16.  Peripheral Erythrocytes Decrease upon Specific Respiratory Challenge with Grass Pollen Allergen in Sensitized Mice and in Human Subjects 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86701.
Background and Aims
Specific hyper-responsiveness towards an allergen and non-specific airway hyperreactivity both impair quality of life in patients with respiratory allergic diseases. We aimed to investigate cellular responses following specific and non-specific airway challenges locally and systemically in i) sensitized BALB/c mice challenged with grass pollen allergen Phl p 5, and in ii) grass pollen sensitized allergic rhinitis subjects undergoing specific airway challenge in the Vienna Challenge Chamber (VCC).
Methods and Results
BALB/c mice (n = 20) were intraperitoneally immunized with grass pollen allergen Phl p 5 and afterwards aerosol challenged with either the specific allergen Phl p 5 (n = 10) or the non-specific antigen ovalbumin (OVA) (n = 10). A protocol for inducing allergic asthma as well as allergic rhinitis, according to the united airway concept, was used. Both groups of exposed mice showed significantly reduced physical activity after airway challenge. Specific airway challenge further resulted in goblet cell hyperplasia, enhanced mucous secretion, intrapulmonary leukocyte infiltration and lymphoid follicle formation, associated with significant expression of IL-4, IL-5 and IL-13 in splenocytes and also partially in lung tissue. Concerning circulating blood cell dynamics, we observed a significant drop of erythrocyte counts, hemoglobin and hematocrit levels in both mouse groups, challenged with allergen or OVA. A significant decrease in circulating erythrocytes and hematocrit levels after airway challenges with grass pollen allergen was also found in grass pollen sensitized human rhinitis subjects (n = 42) at the VCC. The effects on peripheral leukocyte counts in mice and humans however were opposed, possibly due to the different primary inflammation sites.
Our data revealed that, besides significant leukocyte dynamics, particularly erythrocytes are involved in acute hypersensitivity reactions to respiratory allergens. A rapid recruitment of erythrocytes to the lungs to compensate for hypoxia is a possible explanation for these findings.
PMCID: PMC3899302  PMID: 24466205
17.  Immunotherapy Reduces Allergen-Mediated CD66b Expression and Myeloperoxidase Levels on Human Neutrophils from Allergic Patients 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94558.
CD66b is a member of the carcinoembryonic antigen family, which mediates the adhesion between neutrophils and to endothelial cells. Allergen-specific immunotherapy is widely used to treat allergic diseases, and the molecular mechanisms underlying this therapy are poorly understood. The present work was undertaken to analyze A) the in vitro effect of allergens and immunotherapy on cell-surface CD66b expression of neutrophils from patients with allergic asthma and rhinitis and B) the in vivo effect of immunotherapy on cell-surface CD66b expression of neutrophils from nasal lavage fluid during the spring season. Myeloperoxidase expression and activity was also analyzed in nasal lavage fluid as a general marker of neutrophil activation.
CD66b cell-surface expression is upregulated in vitro in response to allergens, and significantly reduced by immunotherapy (p<0.001). Myeloperoxidase activity in nasal lavage fluid was also significantly reduced by immunotherapy, as were the neutrophil cell-surface expression of CD66b and myeloperoxidase (p<0.001). Interestingly, CD66b expression was higher in neutrophils from nasal lavage fluid than those from peripheral blood, and immunotherapy reduced the number of CD66+MPO+ cells in nasal lavage fluid. Thus, immunotherapy positive effects might, at least in part, be mediated by the negative regulation of the CD66b and myeloperoxidase activity in human neutrophils.
PMCID: PMC3989194  PMID: 24740105
18.  Nasal mast cells in perennial allergic rhinitics exhibit increased expression of the Fc epsilonRI, CD40L, IL-4, and IL-13, and can induce IgE synthesis in B cells. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1997;99(7):1492-1499.
Cross-linking of allergen specific IgE bound to the high affinity IgE receptor (FC epsilonRI) on the surface of mast cells with multivalent allergens results in the release of both pre-formed and newly generated mediators, and in the manifestation of allergic symptoms. The expression of Fc epsilonRI, and the synthesis of IgE are therefore critical for the development of allergic diseases. In this study, we report that nasal mast cells (NMC) from patients with perennial allergic rhinitis (PAR) expressed significantly greater levels of the Fc epsilonRI, CD40L, IL-4, and IL-13 as compared to NMC from patients with chronic infective rhinitis (CIR). The level of Fc epsilonRI expression in NMC of PAR patients strongly correlated with the levels of serum total (r = 0.8, P < 0.003) and specific IgE (r = 0.89, P < 0.0004) antibodies. In addition, stimulation of NMC with IL-4, upregulated the Fc epsilonRIalpha chain expression both at the protein and mRNA levels, as detected by flow cytometry and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. Furthermore, NMC from PAR, but not CIR, patients induced IgE synthesis by purified B cells in the presence of Der fII (mite antigen). These results suggest novel and critical roles for mast cells in promoting the allergic reaction through the increased expression of Fc epsilonRI and by enhancing and amplifying the IgE production, within the local microenvironment.
PMCID: PMC507968  PMID: 9119992
19.  Efficacy and safety of ragweed sublingual immunotherapy in Canadian patients with allergic rhinoconjunctivitis 
Currently accepted therapies for ragweed allergy in North America consist of pharmacotherapy and subcutaneous allergen immunotherapy injections to treat symptoms. Allergen immunotherapy not only reduces symptoms and the need for pharmacotherapy but has also been shown to have disease-modifying potential. Recently, ragweed immunotherapy administered via sublingual allergen tablet has been approved in North America for treatment of allergic rhinitis with and without conjunctivitis.
This was an analysis of pooled data for a prespecified subgroup of Canadian subjects from two multicentre, randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trials of ragweed sublingual tablet (SLIT-T; 6 and 12 Amb a 1-U of Ambrosia artemisiifolia) in patients aged ≥18y, with ragweed-induced allergic rhinoconjunctivitis (AR/C) with or without asthma. Randomized subjects used once-daily ragweed SLIT-T or placebo for at least 12 weeks before the ragweed season and for up to 52 weeks post-randomization. The primary efficacy endpoint was the total combined score (TCS) based on the sum of AR/C daily symptom score (DSS) and daily medication score (DMS) averaged over the peak season. Treatment effects on TCS, DSS, and DMS in the entire season were also assessed. Adverse events (AEs) were monitored to assess safety.
337 Canadian subjects were randomized in the two trials. During the peak season, ragweed SLIT-T 6 and 12 Amb a 1-U significantly reduced TCS by 26% (difference, -2.46 score point; p = .0009) and 40% (difference, -3.75 score point; p < .0001), respectively. In the overall population (N = 961), TCS reductions with 6 and 12 Amb a 1-U were 20% and 23%, respectively (both p < .001). Clinically meaningful reductions in entire-season TCS in Canadians were similar to those during peak ragweed season. Dose-dependent reduction of DSS and DMS was also observed for ragweed SLIT-T 6 and 12 Amb a 1-U during the peak season and the entire season. Ragweed SLIT-T was well tolerated in Canadian subjects and the overall population. Adverse events were generally mild to moderate and transient, occurring early in treatment; no systemic allergic reaction/anaphylaxis was noted.
Ragweed SLIT-T is an effective form of immunotherapy that provides symptomatic efficacy of AR/C with a favorable risk profile in Canadian and overall populations.
Trial registration identifiers NCT00783198 and NCT00770315.
PMCID: PMC4363352  PMID: 25788949
Allergic rhinitis; Conjunctivitis; Ragweed pollen; Allergen immunotherapy; Sublingual immunotherapy Tablet; SLIT
20.  201 Clinical Efficacy and Mucosal/Systemic Antibody Response Changes After Sublingual Immunotherapy in Mite-Allergic Children: A Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study in Brazil 
The World Allergy Organization Journal  2012;5(Suppl 2):S83-S84.
This study aimed to evaluate the clinical efficacy and mucosal/systemic antibody response changes after sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) using Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (Dpt) allergens with or without bacterial extracts in mite-allergic Brazilian children.
One-hundred and 2 patients presenting allergic rhinitis with or without asthma were selected for a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trial and distributed into 3 groups: DPT (Dpt allergen extract, n = 34), DPT + MRB (Dpt allergen plus mixed respiratory bacterial extracts, n = 36), and Placebo (n = 32). Clinical evaluation and immunological analyses were carried out before and after 12 and 18 months of treatment, including rhinitis/asthma symptom and medication scores, skin prick test (SPT) to Dpt extract, and measurements of Dpt-, Der p 1-, Der p 2-specific IgE, IgG4, and IgG1 in serum and -specific IgA in saliva and nasal lavage fluid.
Clinical results showed a significant decline in rhinitis/asthma symptom scores in all groups, but medication use decreased only in active DPT group at 12 months. SPT results showed no significant changes and SLIT was generally safe, with no severe systemic reactions. SLIT using Dpt allergen alone induced increased serum IgG4 levels to Dpt, Der p 1 and Der p 2, and increased serum IgG1 and salivary IgA levels to Dpt and Der p 1. SLIT using DPT+MRB was able to decrease IgE levels, particularly to Der p 2, to increase salivary IgA levels to Der p 1, but had no changes on specific IgG4 and IgG1 levels.
Therefore, SLIT seems to be effective in ameliorating clinical symptoms, but only active SLIT was able to modulate the mucosal and systemic antibody responses. These findings support the role of specific serum IgG4 and IgG1, in addition to salivary IgA, as protective or blocking antibodies as well as biomarkers of tolerance that may be useful for monitoring activation of tolerance-inducing mechanisms during allergen immunotherapy.
PMCID: PMC3512804
21.  New product development with the innovative biomolecular sublingual immunotherapy formulations for the management of allergic rhinitis 
The molecular allergy technique, currently defined as component-resolved diagnosis, significantly improved the diagnosis of allergy, allowing for differentiation between molecules actually responsible for clinical symptoms (genuine sensitizers) and those simply cross-reacting or shared by several sources (panallergens), thus influencing the appropriate management of a patient’s allergy. This also concerns allergen immunotherapy (AIT), which may be prescribed more precisely based on the component-resolved diagnosis results. However, the advance in diagnosis needs to be mirrored in AIT. According to consensus documents and to expectations of specialists, therapy should be based on standardized extracts containing measured amounts of the clinically relevant molecules, ie, the major allergens. The new generation of extracts for sublingual immunotherapy fulfills these requirements and are thus defined as biomolecular (BM). BM refers to natural extracts with a defined content of major allergens in micrograms. All Staloral BM products are indicated for the treatment of allergic rhinitis with or without asthma. The effectiveness of AIT is related to its ability to modify the immunological response of allergic subjects. The 5-grass and house dust mite extracts were evaluated addressing the T helper 1, T helper 2, and T helper 3 cells by polymerase chain reaction array on mRNA extracted from Waldeyer’s ring tissue (adenoids). Sublingual immunotherapy with a defined content of major allergens in micrograms induced a strong downregulation of genes involved in T helper 2 and T helper 1 activation and function, allowing the definition of the immunologic effect as “bio-homeostatic”. This clinical and immunological model must be implemented with respect to other allergens, thus expanding the application of a treatment with a unique disease-modifying capacity.
PMCID: PMC4167485  PMID: 25246765
allergen immunotherapy; allergy; component resolved diagnosis; major allergens; allergen molecules
22.  Requirements for acquiring a high-quality house dust mite extract for allergen immunotherapy 
Video abstract
The house dust mite is a major cause of respiratory allergy worldwide. The management of mite allergy is based on avoidance measures, drug treatment, and allergen immunotherapy, but only allergen immunotherapy is able to modify the natural history of the disease. Injectable subcutaneous immunotherapy was introduced a century ago, while sublingual immunotherapy was proposed in the 1980s and emerged in the ensuing years as an effective and safe option to subcutaneous immunotherapy. However, the quality of the extracts to be used in allergen immunotherapy is crucial for the success of treatment. The mite extract for sublingual immunotherapy known as Staloral 300 was developed to offer optimal characteristics concerning the mite culture medium, standardization, and allergen dose. Double-blind, placebo-controlled trials with Staloral 300 have provided a substantial part of the clinical evidence analyzed in a meta-analysis of the efficacy of allergen immunotherapy in mite-induced rhinitis and asthma. Safety and tolerability are very good, mild local reactions in the mouth being the most common side effect. This makes it feasible to carry out sublingual immunotherapy for the 3–5-year duration needed to achieve long-lasting tolerance to the specific allergen. The performance of Staloral 300 may provide optimal conditions for an effective and safe sublingual immunotherapy in patients with mite-induced respiratory allergy.
PMCID: PMC3363974  PMID: 22654506
house dust mite; rhinitis; asthma; allergen extracts; sublingual immunotherapy
23.  Efficacy of long-term sublingual-oral immunotherapy in allergic rhinitis 
Aim of the study was to evaluate the clinical efficacy of sublingual-oral immunotherapy in allergic rhinitis induced by various allergens and to demonstrate its effects using objective methods such as skin prick tests and specific IgE analysis. The first 100 patients diagnosed with allergic rhinitis and treated with sublingual-oral immunotherapy took part in the study and were followed for 2 years. Baseline findings were statistically compared with data obtained at the end of the study period. All symptoms including nasal discharge, sneezing, nasal congestion, and itching, as well as all clinical findings, including lower turbinate colour, turbinate congestion, and nasal discharge, observed by the physician, were significantly decreased after sublingual-oral treatment for two years (p < 0.001). A significant reduction in skin test reactivity was found when the initial and the final tests were compared. The difference between before and after treatment levels of specific IgE levels for D. pteronyssinus, D. farinea, and grasses were significant (p < 0.001), but were not significant for cereals (p = 679 ns). As far as concerns the correlation between the recovery of clinical findings and age, as well as the correlation between the recovery of clinical findings and sex, neither of these were statistically significant (age: r = -0.076, p = 0.453, sex: r = -0.004, p = 0.97). The efficacy of the treatment, determined by means of symptom evaluations, was higher than expected in our study. A certain effect of this recovery might be due to the placebo effect, but it is supported by the improvement in skin tests and specific IgE levels.
PMCID: PMC2639887  PMID: 16482978
Nose; Allergic rhinitis; Oral immunotherapy; Skin test; Specific IgE
24.  Nature of Regulatory T Cells in the Context of Allergic Disease 
Allergen-specific immunotherapy (SIT) is the cornerstone of the management of allergic diseases, which targets modification of the immunologic response, along with environmental allergen avoidance and pharmacotherapy. SIT is associated with improved tolerance to allergen challenge, with a decrease in immediate-phase and late-phase allergic inflammation. SIT has the potential to prevent development of new sensitizations and progression of allergic rhinitis to asthma. It has a role in cellular and humoral responses in a modified pattern. The ratio of T helper (Th)1 cytokines to Th2 cytokines is increased following SIT, and functional regulatory T cells are induced. Interleukin-10 production by monocytes, macrophages, and B and T cells is increased, as well as expression of transforming growth factor β. SIT is associated with increases in allergen-specific antibodies in IgA, IgG1, and IgG4 isotypes. These blocking-type immunoglobulins, particularly IgG4, may compete with IgE binding to allergen, decreasing the allergen presentation with the high- and low-affinity receptors for IgE (FcεRI and FcεRII, respectively). Additionally, SIT reduces the number of mast cells and eosinophils in the target tissues and release of mediators from these cells.
PMCID: PMC2868864  PMID: 20525131
dendritic cells; mucosal tolerance; regulatory T cells; allergen-specific immunotherapy
25.  Allergen-Specific Immunotherapy in Patients 55 Years and Older: Results and Review of Literature 
Introduction Over the years the immune system suffers many morphologic and functional alterations, which result in a peak of function in puberty and a gradual decrease in the elderly.
Aim Treat patients 55 years or older with allergic rhinitis with immunotherapy and then analyze the response to allergens.
Materials and Methods From June 2009 to July 2010, 104 charts of patients 55 years or older with allergic complaints were evaluated. The patients were selected by anamnesis, physical examination, and otorhinolaryngologic exam. The patients had cutaneous test for mites before and after 1 year of sublingual specific immunotherapy. The cutaneous response was classified as negative (absent), light, moderate, or severe.
Results Before vaccination, 42 (40.4%) patients were classified as having a severe form of allergy and 62 (59.6%) as having a moderate allergy. After the specific therapy, 40 (38.4%) patients were classified as negative (absent), 37 (35.6%) as light, 19 (18.3%) as moderate, and 8 (7.7%) as severe responses.
Conclusion Immunotherapy, a desensitization technique, is indicated in cases which patients cannot avoid the exposure to allergens and in situations where pharmacologic therapy is not ideal. Specific immunotherapy to treat the allergic rhinitis in elderly patients was efficient and had no collateral effects, and in addition to the clinical benefit, improvement in the cutaneous test could also be observed.
PMCID: PMC4399164  PMID: 25992039
immunotherapy; aged; rhinitis

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