Specific oral tolerance induction in food allergy


B. Niggemann
Department of Pediatric Pneumology and Immunology
University Children's Hospital Charité
Augustenburger Platz 1
13353 Berlin


Specific oral tolerance in food allergy can be induced by oral administration of the offending food, starting with very low dosages, gradually increasing the daily dosage up to an amount equivalent to a usually relevant dose for daily intake, followed up by a daily maintenance dose. Unfortunately, the body of scientific evidence concerning specific oral tolerance induction (SOTI) is still rather poor. Following a couple of case reports, only a few studies on a limited number of patients including different allergens are available. So far, no placebo-controlled, long-term study has been published. Concerning the underlying immunological mechanism, a limited number of studies have reported on changes in antibody production, and more recently on the role of different T-cell populations. The individual pattern of clinical reaction during SOTI seems to vary considerably between patients and from allergen to allergen. Arguments in favour of SOTI are the safety for an inadvertent intake of the offending food and the increased quality of life. Arguments against SOTI are the necessity for a regular intake and possible long-term compliance problems. Indications to consider SOTI in the future might be (i) importance of the incriminated food for the individual nutritional regimen, (ii) avoidance of the corresponding food cannot be assured and (iii) persistent severe food allergy. However, before SOTI can be recommended for the daily praxis, more studies are warranted to clarify whether certain patients may profit from SOTI and to understand the underlying mechanism.