Appearance of allergen-induced increases in airway responsiveness only after repeated allergen inhalations in two subjects


Dr D. W. Cockcroft, Section of Respiratory, Department of Medicine, University Hospital, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada S7N 0X0.


Observations in two subjects undergoing three allergen challenges for a drug study suggested ‘priming’ of the late sequelae, namely allergen-induced increase in airway responsiveness. Both subjects had rhinitis and asthma limited to the ragweed season, near normal out-of-season histamine PC20, and extreme IgE sensitivity to ragweed. Both had an isolated early response with no change in histamine PC20 after the first allergen challenge. Significant (3.5- to 5.8-fold) reductions in histamine PC20 occurred after the second and third allergen challenge in Subject 1, and after the third challenge in Subject 2; this was associated with equivocal 5–8% late responses. Such a ‘priming’ effect, the prevalence of which is not known, may be important in the pathogenesis of naturally occurring allergic asthma, and in the design of clinical trials involving repeated allergen inhalations.