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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1989 Mar;83(3):589-94.

Specific IgE, IgG, and IgA antibody response to oral immunotherapy in birch pollinosis.

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  • 1Medical Department TTA, State University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Thirty-nine patients with birch pollinosis participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral immunotherapy (OIT) for 18 months. They were treated with increasing doses of freeze-dried birch-pollen antigens for 16 months, reaching a cumulative dose of 280 x 10(6) biologic units. This is about 200 times more than the dose used in conventional subcutaneous immunotherapy (IT). In the placebo-treated group, but not in the actively treated group, there was a rise in postseasonal birch-specific IgE antibody levels. A significant decline in postseasonal values after 1 year of treatment was recorded in the actively treated, but not in the placebo-treated, group. Compared to the placebo treatment, there was a significant rise in birch-specific IgG antibodies in patients administered active treatment; however, the rise was less than that usually observed during subcutaneous IT. No significant change in birch-specific serum IgA was found in either group. The changes in IgE and IgG antibody levels demonstrate that OIT affects the immune system. This supports our recent findings that OIT demonstrates a beneficial effect in the treatment of birch pollinosis in adults. But, as with subcutaneous IT, there was no clear relationship between antibody response and clinical findings in the patients. The underlying mechanisms responsible for the relief of symptoms thus remain unknown.

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