Immunotherapy - risk/benefit in food allergy

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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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)633-44
Number of pages12
JournalPediatric Allergy and Immunology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


  • Allergens
  • Animals
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Desensitization, Immunologic
  • Food Hypersensitivity
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Risk Assessment
  • Treatment Outcome


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