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Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2003 Dec;3(6):501-10.

Is there a role for anti-IgE in combination with specific allergen immunotherapy?

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Department of Pediatric Pneumology, Charité, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.



A line of novel therapeutic approaches that try to interfere more specifically with the immunological mechanisms underlying allergen-induced pathology are currently undergoing clinical evaluation. The most advanced of these is anti-IgE, which directly targets IgE serum antibodies, thus inhibiting the central mechanism of immediate type hypersensitivity reactions. In addition, a lot of interest has recently been focused on allergen-specific immunotherapy due to its potential to cure allergic diseases. In the present review, state-of-the-art treatment of allergic diseases with anti-IgE and allergen-specific immunotherapy is summarized, and the potential of combination therapy with both treatment options is discussed.


Application of anti-IgE antibodies effectively reduces IgE serum levels regardless of allergen specificity. This treatment has been successfully tested in patients with allergic rhinitis, asthma and food allergy, showing significant efficacy in reducing symptom scores and rescue medication use. Anti-IgE therapy is limited by high costs and the necessity for permanent or every-season treatment. The strongest argument in favor of allergen-specific immunotherapy is the potential to cure allergic diseases, which has been demonstrated in patients with allergic rhinitis, insect venom allergy and, to a lesser degree, asthma. The broader application of allergen-specific immunotherapy is restricted by sometimes life-threatening side effects. A combination of anti-IgE and allergen-specific immunotherapy was shown to be superior to each single treatment protocol in children and adolescents with allergic rhinitis, as demonstrated by efficacy of symptom scores and rescue medication use.


There are strong arguments for a combination of anti-IgE plus allergen-specific immunotherapy for treatment of allergic diseases: improved efficacy, limited side effects, and potential curative effects.

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