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.
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