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Efficacy and safety of subcutaneous immunotherapy with a biologically standardized extract of Ambrosia artemisiifolia pollen: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study


Dr Silvia Pecora, Service Medical Director, ALK-Abellò S.p.A., Via Settembrini, 60, 20020 Lainate, Milan. E-mail:


Background The allergological relevance of Ambrosia in Europe is growing but the efficacy of the injective immunotherapy for this allergen has been documented only in Northern America.

Objective We sought to study the safety and efficacy of injective immunotherapy in European patients sensitized to Ambrosia artemisiifolia.

Methods Thirty-two patients (18 M/14 F, mean age 36.78, range 23–60 years) suffering from rhinoconjunctivitis and/or asthma and sensitized to Ambrosia were enrolled and randomized in a double-blind, placebo-controlled (DBPC) study lasting 1 year. A maintenance dose corresponding to 7.2 μg of Amb a 1 was administered at 4-week intervals after the build-up. During the second and the third year, all patients were under active therapy in an open fashion. Symptom and medication scores, skin reactivity to Ambrosia (parallel line biological assay), and pollen counts were assessed throughout the trial.

Results Twenty-three patients completed the trial. No severe adverse event was observed. During the DBPC phase, actively treated patients showed an improvement in asthmatic symptoms (P=0.02) and drug (P=0.0068) scores days with asthmatic symptoms (P=0.003), days with rhinitis symptoms (P=0.05), and days with intake of drugs (P=0.0058), as compared to before therapy. No improvement for any of these parameters was detected in the placebo group. Moreover, the number of days with rhinitis and asthma was significantly higher in the placebo as compared to the active group (P=0.048 and P<0.0001, respectively). Patients who switched from placebo to active therapy improved in rhinoconjunctivitis, asthma, and drug intake. The skin reactivity decreased significantly (12.2-fold, P=0.0001) in the active group whereas a slight increase (1.07-fold, P=0.87) was observed in the placebo group after the DBPC phase. After switching to active therapy, patients previously under placebo showed a significant decrease of this parameter (4.78-fold, P=0.002).

Conclusion Injective immunotherapy is safe and clinically effective in European patients sensitized to Ambrosia.

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