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Allergy immunotherapy for allergic fungal respiratory diseases

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Allergy immunotherapy (AIT) with fungal extracts is not as straight forward as that with other inhalants. The complexities relate to the number of airborne fungal spores, the limited data on the exposure to the spores of individual species of fungi and their clinical importance, the poor quality of the fungal allergen extracts that are available for the diagnosis and treatment, and the lack of controlled studies establishing dosing and efficacy of AIT with fungal extracts except for Alternaria.


The objective was to review what is known with regard to the role of fungi in causing allergic respiratory diseases as well as the evidence that exists for the role of AIT as a treatment for these conditions.


A search was conducted of PubMed, textbooks, known articles on immunotherapy with fungal extracts, and references derived from these primary sources.


Nine immunotherapy studies that used Alternaria or its major allergen Alt a 1 and two studies that used Cladosporium herbarum were identified. When a good quality extract was administered in adequate doses, immunotherapy with Alternaria was as effective as that with other inhalant allergens. There was a suggestion of efficacy with a specially prepared Cladosporium extract, but systemic reactions were common and limited the tolerated dose. The use of immunotherapy as an adjunct treatment for allergic fungal sinusitis is briefly reviewed, but controlled trials are lacking.


Fungal immunotherapy should largely be limited to Alternaria alternata and perhaps C. herbarum. Under conditions of demonstrated exposure to a particular species of fungus and with symptoms that correlate with that exposure as well as availability of an apparently potent extract of that fungus to which the patient is sensitive that fungus may be considered for immunotherapy. Fungal (mold) mixes should not be used for diagnosis or therapy.

Keywords: Allergy; Alt a 1; Alternaria; Cladosporium; allergen extracts; allergic fungal sinusitis; allergic rhinitis; asthma; exposure; fungi; immunotherapy

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 15, 2023

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  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma and by having the potential to directly impact the quality of patient care. AAP welcomes the submission of original works including peer-reviewed original research and clinical trial results. Additionally, as the official journal of the Eastern Allergy Conference (EAC), AAP will publish content from EAC poster sessions as well as review articles derived from EAC lectures.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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