Immunotherapy Of Allergic Diseases

Kent T HayGlass, Department of Immunology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada

Allergen immunotherapy represents the dominant immunologic, as opposed to environmental or pharmacologic, approach to management of allergic diseases such as allergic rhinitis, conjunctivitis and asthma. It was developed empirically, coincident with the modern-day discovery of allergy by Portier, Richer and von Pirquet. In essence, it involves identification of the allergen(s) to which a patient exhibits immunoglobulin E (IgE)-dependent sensitivity followed by subcutaneous administration of minute amounts of natural extracts containing these allergens. The goal is lasting modification of immune processes responsible for the maintenance of atopic symptoms. Other, infrequently used, forms of desensitization (i.e. IgE-mediated drug reactions)

operate by different mechanisms and are nor reviewed here.

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