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Wednesday 01 December 2004

Efficacy of injection immunotherapy with ragweed and birch pollen in elderly patients.

By: Asero R.

Int Arch Allergy Immunol 2004 Dec;135(4):332-5

BACKGROUND: The role of specific immunotherapy (SIT) in elderly allergic patients is still debated. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to assess whether SIT is associated with a better control of symptoms and a better quality of life also in older allergic patients. METHODS: The effect of injection SIT was assessed in 39 patients [age >54 years, median 59; 29 patients (74%) with asthma, otherwise healthy] monosensitized to birch (n = 20) and ragweed (n = 19). Thirty-three younger subjects [age <50 years, median 35; 26 patients (79%) with asthma, otherwise healthy] monosensitized to birch (n = 10) and ragweed (n = 23), and 37 subjects >54 years old (25 males/12 females; age 55-79 years, median 59 years) monosensitized to birch (n = 18) and ragweed (n = 19) who refused to undergo SIT were enrolled as positive and negative controls, respectively. All groups had a disease duration <10 years; the disease was inadequately controlled with standard drug therapies in all cases. SIT was carried out using the same extracts and was administered using a perennial schedule both in patients and controls. Seasonal therapies were the same in all groups and were not changed after SIT was started. After 1-5 years of SIT, patients and controls were asked to quantify symptom reduction on a visual analogue scale: reductions >50% were considered significant. Moreover, the use of cetirizine and/or salbutamol as an adjunct to standard therapies during the last pollen season was assessed as an objective measure of SIT outcome. RESULTS: 37/39 (95%) patients versus 32/33 (97%) controls submitted to SIT reported a symptom reduction >50% after 1-5 years of SIT (nonsignificant). The median clinical efficacy of SIT was 80% in both groups (nonsignificant). 27/37 controls not submitted to SIT did not report any change in symptom severity at the follow-up visits, whereas 10/37 reported a more severe disease (4 subjects reported the appearance of seasonal asthma) (p < 0.001 vs. patients submitted to SIT). Patients used less frequently cetirizine (p < 0.001) and/or salbutamol (p < 0.05) than controls not submitted to SIT. CONCLUSION: Injection SIT can be considered an effective therapeutic option in otherwise healthy elderly patients with a short disease duration whose symptoms cannot be adequately controlled by drug therapies alone. 2004 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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