Allergic rhinoconjunctivitis is a public health problem. Allergen Immunotherapy is an effective and safe treatment, that modifies the natural course of allergic disease and induces long-term tolerance.
To correlate basophil and antibody biomarkers of subcutaneous immunotherapy to clinical outcomes and cellular changes in target tissue.
Adults suffering from allergic rhinoconjunctivitis due to grass pollen allergy were randomized to receive subcutaneous immunotherapy (n=18) or to an open control group (n=6). Patients reported daily symptom and medication scores and weekly rhinitis related quality of life scores during four pollen seasons. Biomarkers were measured every 3 months for three years treatment and every 6 months in the follow-up year. Nasal and cutaneous allergen challenge tests were performed annually. Leucocyte subsets were assessed in nasal mucosa biopsies at baseline and after treatment.
Subcutaneous immunotherapy led to a 447-fold decrease in basophil sensitivity during the first treatment year. This remained hundredfold lower than baseline during the 3 year-treatment period and tenfold lower during the follow-up year (n=18, p=0.03). Decrease in basophil sensitivity after three weeks of treatment predicted long-term improvement in seasonal combined symptom and medication scores (ῥ=-0.69, p=0.0027) during three years of treatment. AUC of IgE blocking factor correlated to nasal allergen challenge (ῥ =0.63, p=0.0012) and SPT (ῥ =0.45, p=0.03). Plasma cell numbers in the nasal mucosa increased during treatment (p=0.02).
Decrease in basophil sensitivity after three weeks of subcutaneous allergen immunotherapy predicted the clinical outcome of this treatment.

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