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Grass pollen sublingual immunotherapy: A double-blind, placebo-controlled study in elderly patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis

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This study evaluates the safety and efficacy of specific sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) against grass pollen allergens in patients >60 years of age with seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR) and/or asthma. This study sought to assess nasal symptoms during the grass pollen season, reduce medication use, and monitor adverse reactions during immunotherapy.


Seventy-eight 60- to 70-year-old patients with SAR and a confirmed grass pollen allergy according to skin-prick tests, nasal provocation, and measurement of serum IgE were included in the study. The patients were individually randomized to the active or placebo groups using a double-blind method. A total of 41 subjects in the SLIT group (5 grass pollen mixture) and 37 subjects in the placebo group were monitored for 3 years. The patients were required to record each use of an antiallergy medication on a diary card.


Thirty-eight patients completed 3 years (preseasonal) of SLIT, and 34 subjects finished the placebo treatment in the same time period. The total nasal symptom score decreased by 64% in the active group and 7% in the placebo group after SLIT. This difference was only significant in the active group (p < 0.05). At the end of therapy, the total medication score of the active group decreased significantly by a maximum of 51% (p < 0.05), whereas the total medication score of the placebo group had an insignificant decrease. None of the study participants had systemic adverse reactions during the study period.


SLIT in elderly patients with a grass pollen allergy generated a significant clinical improvement in the active group compared with the placebo group for grass pollen season. This therapy was well tolerated.
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Keywords: Asthma; IgE; elderly; grass pollen; nasal provocation; seasonal allergic rhinitis; skin-prick test; sublingual immunotherapy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Clinical Department of Internal Disease, Dermatology, and Allergology, Medical University School of Silesia, Zabrze, Poland

Publication date: 2014-09-01

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