Purpose of review: The present review updates current findings on long-term clinical and immunological outcomes after cessation of allergen immunotherapy for allergic respiratory disease.
Recent findings: Recent studies have shown that allergen immunotherapy has sustained disease-modifying effects that persist for years after discontinuation. This is in contrast to the effects of antiallergic drugs that do not induce tolerance to offending allergens. Long-term effects of immunotherapy include a reduction in nasal symptoms, a decrease in the use of rescue medication and improvement in quality of life. These benefits are accompanied by immunological changes such as the induction of allergen-specific IgG antibodies with inhibitory activity for IgE-facilitated binding of allergen–IgE complexes to B cells. One study reported a reduction in the development of asthma in children with seasonal pollen-induced rhinitis.
Summary: Allergen immunotherapy induces clinical and immunological tolerance as defined by persistence of clinical benefit and associated long-term immunological parameters after discontinuation of treatment. These findings are largely confined to studies of subcutaneous and sublingual immunotherapy for seasonal pollinosis. Further studies are needed to address potential long-term clinical effects for other seasonal and perennial inhaled allergens in both children and adults, and to identify potential biomarkers of tolerance.