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Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2011;156(4):416-22. doi: 10.1159/000323909. Epub 2011 Aug 10.

Birch-apple syndrome treated with birch pollen immunotherapy.

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Allergy Unit, Sant'Anna Hospital, Como, Italy.



The most common pollen-fruit cross-reaction is the birch-apple syndrome. Allergen immunotherapy (IT) is clearly effective for birch allergy, but its efficacy on apple allergy is controversial. We performed a randomized study on patients with birch-apple syndrome to evaluate the outcome of subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) and sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT).


Forty patients underwent IT with a birch extract (Staloral; Stallergenes, Antony, France), 20 by SCIT and 20 by SLIT. After 1 year of treatment, 15 patients (8 for SCIT and 7 for SLIT) accepted to undergo an oral apple challenge. Measurements of specific IgE to Bet v 1 and Mal d 1 and related allergens Api g 1 and Dau c 1 were obtained in 10 patients, at baseline and after IT.


Two of 8 SCIT-treated patients (25%) and 1 of 7 SLIT-treated patients (14.2%) developed complete tolerance to apple. In the remaining patients, an increase in the provocative dose was found in 3 of the SCIT-treated (37.5%) and 2 of the SLIT-treated patients (28.6%). Changes in the levels of specific IgE to Mal d 1 were unrelated to clinical results.


These findings suggest that different doses of birch extract may be needed in different patients to improve the associated apple allergy and that a finer diagnostic work-up in selecting patients with birch-apple syndrome who are candidates to respond to birch pollen IT also concerning apple allergy is required.

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