Baseline specific IgE levels are useful to predict safety of oral immunotherapy in egg-allergic children




Oral immunotherapy (OIT) is a promising treatment for food allergy but dose-related reactions are common.


To evaluate safety of egg-OIT. To identify predictors of dose-related reactions.


Fifty children aged 5-18 underwent egg-OIT after confirming IgE-mediated egg allergy by double-blind placebo-controlled challenge (DBPCFC). All dose-related reactions over a median period of 18 months on-OIT (range: 12–28) were registered. Children were retrospectively divided into three subgroups: (1) children who stopped reacting to OIT-doses over time (RR, Resolved Reactions); (2) children with ongoing dose-related reactions over the whole period on-OIT (PR, Persistent Reactions); (3) children who discontinued OIT within induction phase due to frequent reactions not improved by protocol re-adaptation and medication (ED, Early Discontinuation). Baseline clinical/immunological parameters associated with subgroups were investigated.


Reactions occurred in 7.6% of doses. Adrenaline was required in 26% of children. The three subgroups corresponded to three different safety phenotypes: (1) twenty-four children (48%, RR) experienced infrequent and mainly mild reactions that resolved over time. None required adrenaline; (2) seventeen children (34%, PR) experienced more frequent and severe ongoing reactions over time; (3) nine children (18%, ED) discontinued OIT due to very frequent and mainly moderate reactions. Early discontinuation was associated with underlying asthma, higher specific IgE (sIgE) and lower threshold at DBPCFC. In contrast, lower sIgE and less severe reactions at DBPCFC were associated with subgroup RR. sIgE showed excellent performance in predicting belonging to subgroup RR. Levels below the optimal cut-off (ovomucoid-sIgE 8.85 kU/L) indicated 77% probability of belonging to subgroup RR, whereas levels above it indicated 95% probability of early discontinuation or ongoing reactions over time.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance

Egg-OIT involves substantial risks. However, baseline parameters, particularly sIgE, may help identify children in whom the procedure is more likely to be safe. Egg-OIT safety needs improvement in children with more severe and persistent egg allergy.