Copyright ©2014 Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Clin Cases. Dec 16, 2014; 2(12): 859-865
Published online Dec 16, 2014. doi: 10.12998/wjcc.v2.i12.859
Role of immunotherapy in the treatment of allergic asthma
Ayfer Yukselen, Seval Guneser Kendirli
Ayfer Yukselen, Clinic of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, Gaziantep Children Hospital, Sehitkamil, 27310 Gaziantep, Turkey
Seval Guneser Kendirli, Division of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, Cukurova University Faculty of Medicine, Balcali, 01150 Adana, Turkey
Author contributions: Yukselen A wrote the paper; and Kendirli SV reviewed the paper.
Correspondence to: Ayfer Yukselen, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Clinic of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, Gaziantep Children Hospital, Sehitkamil, 27560 Gaziantep, Turkey.
Telephone: +90-342-2200072
Received: July 27, 2014
Revised: August 27, 2014
Accepted: October 14, 2014
Published online: December 16, 2014

Allergen-specific immunotherapy (SIT) induces clinical and immunological tolerance as defined by persistence of clinical benefit and associated long-term immunological parameters after cessation of treatment. Although the efficacy of SIT has been shown in terms of reducing symptoms, medication consumption and ameliorating quality of life in both allergic rhinitis and asthma, there has long been some controversies about effectiveness of SIT in the treatment of allergic asthma. The type of allergen, the dose and protocol of immunotherapy, patient selection criteria, the severity and control of asthma, all are significant contributors to the power of efficacy in allergic asthma. The initiation of SIT in allergic asthma should be considered in case of coexisting of other allergic diseases such as allergic rhinitis, unacceptable adverse effects of medications, patient’s preference to avoid long-term pharmacotherapy. Steroid sparing effect of SIT in allergic asthma is also an important benefit particularly in patients who have to use these drugs in high doses for a long-time. Symptomatic asthma is a risk factor for systemic reactions and asthma should be controlled at the time of administration of SIT. Both subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) and sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) have been found to be effective in patients with allergic asthma. Although the safety profile of SLIT seems to be better than SCIT, the results of some studies and meta-analyses suggest that the efficacy of SCIT may appear better and earlier than SLIT in children with allergic asthma.

Keywords: Asthma, Efficacy, Safety, Subcutaneous immunotherapy, Sublingual immunotherapy

Core tip: Allergen specific immuntherapy is the only therapeutic approach that can change the immunologic response to allergens and thus can alter the natural evolution of allergic diseases. Both subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) and sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) have been demonstrated to be beneficial in reducing of symptoms and drug intake,improving quality of life and preventing patients from possible side effects of high doses of steroids. This review examines the clinical effectiveness and safety of both SCIT and SLIT in patients with asthma by discussing recent studies.