Purpose of review
Allergen immunotherapy (AIT) is a well recognized and extensively studied therapeutic intervention for some allergic diseases. Every year new systematic reviews and meta-analysis provide the most powerful source of evidence to orient decision making on prevention or efficacy of AIT. We here discuss systematic reviews and meta-analyses on AIT (published January 2017 to February 2018).
We identified 4 systematic reviews and 10 meta-analyses. Subcutaneous and sublingual AIT (SCIT/SLIT) significantly reduced the development of asthma in children–adolescents with moderate/severe allergic rhinitis, but evidence for a short-term, preventive effect for new allergic sensitizations was nonconclusive. SCIT/SLIT proved to significantly improve symptom and medication scores versus placebo or active comparators in respiratory allergy, with various effect sizes. Oral immunotherapy for IgE-mediated food allergy resulted in substantial benefit in desensitization rates. Data on venom AIT and latex AIT, although limited in quantity and quality, respectively, suggest a large and discrete beneficial effect.
Although current evidence extracted from meta-analyses and systematic reviews support AIT as an effective, relatively safe, and well tolerated alternative for some allergic diseases, heterogeneity and some methodological inconsistencies represent matters of concern as they may affect the validity and applicability of their results, especially in the context of individual, real-life settings.