Immunotherapy – risk/benefit in food allergy

Authors

  • Atanaska I. Kostadinova,

    1. Division of Pharmacology, Faculty of Science, Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
    2. Department of Immunology, Nutricia Research, Utrecht, The Netherlands
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  • Linette E. M. Willemsen,

    1. Division of Pharmacology, Faculty of Science, Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
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  • Léon M. J. Knippels,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Immunology, Nutricia Research, Utrecht, The Netherlands
    • Division of Pharmacology, Faculty of Science, Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
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  • Johan Garssen

    1. Division of Pharmacology, Faculty of Science, Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
    2. Department of Immunology, Nutricia Research, Utrecht, The Netherlands
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Correspondence

Léon M. J. Knippels, Department of Immunology, Nutricia Research, PO Box 80141, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Tel.: +31 30 2095000

Fax: +31 30 2100436

E-mail: leon.knippels@danone.com

Abstract

Food allergy is a growing health concern in the westernized world with approx. 6% of children suffering from it. A lack of approved treatment has led to strict avoidance of the culprit food proteins being the only standard of care. Nowadays in-depth research is conducted to evaluate the possible use of allergen-specific immunotherapy (SIT) as an active therapeutic option for food allergy. Various routes of administration for the immunotherapy are investigated, including subcutaneous, oral, sublingual, and epicutaneous, and some appear to be successful in inducing a temporary tolerant state. Most research has been conducted with oral immunotherapy due to its efficacious and relatively safe profile. Increasing interest is dedicated to safer and more convenient approaches, such as sublingual and epicutaneous SIT; however, doubts exist about their possible capacity to induce temporary tolerant state and permanent oral tolerance. The high frequency of allergic adverse reactions of the various approaches and the inability to achieve permanent oral tolerance have highlighted the need of refinements in the strategies. A promising strategy for preventing IgE cross-linking and thus enhancing safety of SIT, while still activating T cells, is the use of tolerogenic peptides. The implementation of such an immunotherapy approach has the potential of not only increasing the chance of achieving a permanent state of tolerance, but also improving the safety and tolerability of the therapy. Immunotherapy for food allergy is still not ready for the clinic, but current and upcoming studies are dedicated to collect enough evidence for the possible implementation of allergen-SIT as a standard treatment for food allergy.

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