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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2001 Jan;107(1):87-93.

Grass pollen immunotherapy for seasonal rhinitis and asthma: a randomized, controlled trial.

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Upper Respiratory Medicine, Imperial College School of Medicine at the National Heart and Lung Institute, London, UK.



Grass pollen immunotherapy significantly reduces hay fever symptoms and medication requirements. Effects on seasonal asthma are less clear, and concerns over safety persist.


The goal of this study was to assess the effects of grass pollen immunotherapy on symptoms, bronchial hyperresponsiveness, and quality of life in seasonal rhinitis and asthma.


Forty-four patients with severe summer hay fever (of whom 36 reported seasonal chest symptoms and 28 had seasonal bronchial hyperresponsiveness) participated in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group study. After symptom monitoring for one summer, participants received injections of a depot grass pollen vaccine (n = 22) or matched placebo injections (n = 22) in a rapid updosing cluster regimen for 4 weeks, followed by monthly injections for 2 years. Outcome measures included hay fever symptoms and medication use, health-related quality of life, and measurements of nonspecific bronchial responsiveness.


Significant reductions were observed in the immunotherapy group compared with the placebo group in hay fever symptoms (49%, 15%; P =.01), medication scores (80%, 18%; P =.007), and seasonal chest symptoms (90%, 11%; P <.05). Impairment of overall quality of life (mean score of 7 domains) during the pollen season was less in the immunotherapy group than in the placebo group (median difference [95% CI], 0.8 [0.18-1.5]; P =.02). During the pollen season there was no change in airway methacholine PC(20) (provocation concentration producing a 20% fall in FEV(1)) in the immunotherapy-treated group (P =.5), compared with an almost 3 doubling-dose decrease in the placebo-treated group (P =.01, between-group difference). There were no significant local or systemic side effects during the study.


Grass pollen immunotherapy improves quality of life in seasonal allergic rhinitis and reduces seasonal asthma symptoms and bronchial hyperresponsiveness.

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