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Allergen-Specific Immunotherapy for the Treatment of Allergic Rhinoconjunctivitis and/or Asthma: Comparative Effectiveness Review

Comparative Effectiveness Reviews, No. 111

Investigators: , MD, , MD, MPH, , MD, , MD, , MD, MPH, , MS, , MBBS, MPH, and , MD, MPH.

Johns Hopkins University Evidence-based Practice Center
Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); .
Report No.: 13-EHC061-EF

Structured Abstract

Objectives:

Allergic rhinitis is highly prevalent in North America, affecting 20 to 40 percent of the population. Nearly 9 percent of Americans suffer from asthma, with more than half having evidence of atopy. This comparative effectiveness review describes the effectiveness and safety of subcutaneous immunotherapy and sublingual immunotherapy (off-label use of subcutaneous-aqueous allergens for sublingual desensitization) compared with other therapies for treatment of allergic rhinoconjunctivitis and asthma.

Data sources:

We searched the MEDLINE®, Embase, LILACS, and CENTRAL databases from the beginning of each database through May 21, 2012.

Review methods:

Two reviewers independently selected randomized controlled trials according to established study inclusion criteria. Disagreements were resolved by consensus. Paired reviewers assessed the risk of bias of each study and extracted details about the population, intervention(s), and outcomes of interest. The results were summarized by immunotherapy type (sublingual or subcutaneous), allergen, and outcomes. Studies exclusively enrolling children were reviewed separately. The strength of the body of evidence was graded and summarized.

Results:

We included 74 references that investigated the efficacy and safety of subcutaneous immunotherapy, 60 studies that investigated the efficacy and safety of sublingual immunotherapy, and 8 studies that compared the two modes of delivery. All 142 studies were randomized controlled studies. The majority of studies were at medium risk of bias due to design choices. The strength of evidence is high that subcutaneous immunotherapy reduces asthma symptoms, rhinitis symptoms, conjunctivitis symptoms, asthma medication use, asthma plus rhinoconjunctivitis medication use, and rhinoconjunctivitis-specific quality of life. The strength of evidence is moderate that subcutaneous immunotherapy reduces rhinoconjunctivitis medication use, relative to usual care, which includes pharmacotherapy. Likewise, the strength of evidence is high that sublingual immunotherapy reduces asthma symptoms. The strength of evidence is moderate that sublingual immunotherapy reduces rhinitis/rhinoconjunctivitis symptoms, combined symptom scores, conjunctivitis symptoms, and medication useusage relative to usual care, and improves allergy-specific quality of life. In studies comparing subcutaneous with sublingual immunotherapy, strength of evidence supporting the superiority of subcutaneous immunotherapy for reducing allergic rhinitis and conjunctivitis symptoms, and the superiority of sublingual immunotherapy for reducing medication use, is low. We identified 13 pediatric studies of subcutaneous immunotherapy, 18 pediatric studies of sublingual immunotherapy, and 3 pediatric studies comparing subcutaneous and sublingual immunotherapy. The strength of evidence is moderate that subcutaneous immunotherapy reduces asthma symptoms and rhinitis symptoms in comparison to usual care. The strength of evidence is low that subcutaneous immunotherapy reduces conjunctivitis symptoms, medication scores, combined symptom-medication scores, or improves quality of life relative to usual care. The strength of evidence is high that sublingual immunotherapy reduces asthma symptoms, and moderate that it reduces rhinitis/rhinoconjunctivitis symptoms, combined asthma plus rhinitis/rhinoconjunctivitis symptoms, conjunctivitis symptoms, and decreases medication use. While local reactions were frequent with both treatment regimens, there were rare reports of anaphylaxis in the subcutaneous immunotherapy studies, and no anaphylaxis reported in the sublingual immunotherapy studies.

Conclusions:

With some variation across outcomes, the overall body of evidence consistently provides moderate to high support for the effectiveness and safety of both subcutaneous and sublingual immunotherapy for the treatment of allergic rhinitis and asthma. The evidence to support the use of immunotherapy in children is somewhat weaker than the evidence supporting its use in adults. The superiority of one route of administration over the other is not known.

Contents

540 Gaither Road, Rockville, MD 20850; www​.ahrq.gov

Errata added May and August 2013

Prepared for: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services1, Contract No. 290-2007-10061-I, Prepared by: Johns Hopkins University Evidence-based Practice Center, Baltimore, MD

Suggested citation:

Lin SY, Erekosima N, Suarez-Cuervo C, Ramanathan M, Kim JM, Ward D, Chelladurai Y, Segal JB. Allergen-Specific Immunotherapy for the Treatment of Allergic Rhinoconjunctivitis and/or Asthma: Comparative Effectiveness Review. Comparative Effectiveness Review No. 111. (Prepared by the Johns Hopkins University Evidence-based Practice Center under Contract No. 290-2007-10061-I.) AHRQ Publication No. 13-EHC061-EF. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. March 2013. Errata added May and August 2013. www.effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/reports/final.cfm.

This report is based on research conducted by the Johns Hopkins University Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC) under contract to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Rockville, MD (Contract No. 290-2007-10061-I). The findings and conclusions in this document are those of the authors, who are responsible for its contents; the findings and conclusions do not necessarily represent the views of AHRQ. Therefore, no statement in this report should be construed as an official position of AHRQ or of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The information in this report is intended to help health care decisionmakers—patients and clinicians, health system leaders, and policymakers, among others—make well-informed decisions and thereby improve the quality of health care services. This report is not intended to be a substitute for the application of clinical judgment. Anyone who makes decisions concerning the provision of clinical care should consider this report in the same way as any medical reference and in conjunction with all other pertinent information, i.e., in the context of available resources and circumstances presented by individual patients.

This report may be used, in whole or in part, as the basis for development of clinical practice guidelines and other quality enhancement tools, or as a basis for reimbursement and coverage policies. AHRQ or U.S. Department of Health and Human Services endorsement of such derivative products may not be stated or implied.

None of the investigators have any affiliations or financial involvement that conflicts with the material presented in this report.

1

540 Gaither Road, Rockville, MD 20850; www​.ahrq.gov

Bookshelf ID: NBK133240PMID: 23638484
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