Immunotherapy with partially purified and standardized tree pollen extracts. IV. Results from long-term (6-year) follow-up


ALK Research Bøge Allé 10–12 2970 Hørsholm Denmark


The long-term effect of tree pollen extract immunotherapy was investigated 6 years after termination of the treatment. Subjective symptom evaluation of 36 patients 6 years after a 3-year period of immunotherapy showed that rhinitis and asthma symptoms remained at the improved level reached just after termination of the treatment. Some 86% of the rhinitis patients and 68% of the asthma patients maintained improvement. None of the rhinitis patients developed asthma in the study period. Skin prick tests reflected the outcome of the subjective symptom assessment. The skin sensitivity of the patients decreased significantly during immunotherapy, and the skin reactions 6 years after specific immunotherapy were still significantly lower than the pretreatment levels. Total IgE and birch-specific IgE levels were constant throughout the study period, and both the affinity and epitope specificity of the IgE antibodies of the patients were the same before, during, and 6 years after treatment. In conclusion, specific immunotherapy reduces symptoms in patients suffering from rhinitis and asthma, and the effect is maintained 6 years after termination of the treatment. Specific immunotherapy seems to prevent long-term development of asthma in rhinitis patients. IgE measurements do not reflect the overall status of the patients.