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Efficacy of Injection Immunotherapy with Ragweed and Birch Pollen in Elderly Patients

Asero R.
Ambulatorio di Allergologia, Clinica San Carlo, Paderno Dugnano, Italia Int Arch Allergy Immunol 2004;135:332–335 (DOI:10.1159/000082328)


Background: The role of specific immunotherapy (SIT) in elderly allergic patients is still debated. Objective: The aim of this study was to assess whether SIT is associated with a better control of symptoms and a better quality of life also in older allergic patients. Methods: The effect of injection SIT was assessed in 39 patients [age >54 years, median 59; 29 patients (74%) with asthma, otherwise healthy] monosensitized to birch (n = 20) and ragweed (n = 19). Thirty-three younger subjects [age <50 years, median 35; 26 patients (79%) with asthma, otherwise healthy] monosensitized to birch (n = 10) and ragweed (n = 23), and 37 subjects >54 years old (25 males/12 females; age 55–79 years, median 59 years) monosensitized to birch (n = 18) and ragweed (n = 19) who refused to undergo SIT were enrolled as positive and negative controls, respectively. All groups had a disease duration <10 years; the disease was inadequately controlled with standard drug therapies in all cases. SIT was carried out using the same extracts and was administered using a perennial schedule both in patients and controls. Seasonal therapies were the same in all groups and were not changed after SIT was started. After 1–5 years of SIT, patients and controls were asked to quantify symptom reduction on a visual analogue scale: reductions >50% were considered significant. Moreover, the use of cetirizine and/or salbutamol as an adjunct to standard therapies during the last pollen season was assessed as an objective measure of SIT outcome. Results: 37/39 (95%) patients versus 32/33 (97%) controls submitted to SIT reported a symptom reduction >50% after 1–5 years of SIT (nonsignificant). The median clinical efficacy of SIT was 80% in both groups (nonsignificant). 27/37 controls not submitted to SIT did not report any change in symptom severity at the follow-up visits, whereas 10/37 reported a more severe disease (4 subjects reported the appearance of seasonal asthma) (p < 0.001 vs. patients submitted to SIT). Patients used less frequently cetirizine (p < 0.001) and/or salbutamol (p < 0.05) than controls not submitted to SIT. Conclusion: Injection SIT can be considered an effective therapeutic option in otherwise healthy elderly patients with a short disease duration whose symptoms cannot be adequately controlled by drug therapies alone.


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