Objective: To review specific aspects of venom immunotherapy (VIT) in the context of allergen immunotherapy (AIT) in general. Data Sources: Immunotherapy Collegium II presented at the 2005 Annual Meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Study Selection: Discussions of VIT during Immunotherapy Collegium II. Results: The decision to recommend VIT is based on a detailed history and confirmatory diagnostic tests, as well as a knowledge of the natural history of the disease and its impact on quality of life. Skin tests and radioallergosorbent tests are complementary in that neither can detect all cases of insect sting allergy. Unlike inhalant AIT, rush regimens are as safe as slower regimens for initial VIT, and 4- to 8-week maintenance intervals are typical for VIT. In contrast to inhalant AIT, large local reactions are common and expected with VIT and should not limit the maintenance dose. VIT induces full immune tolerance in 85% of patients after 5 years, whereas this occurs in 30% to 50% of patients with inhalant AIT. VIT is often discontinued after 5 years even though skin test results are usually still positive, but a 10% to 15% chance of reaction persists for many years and is greater in patients who had near-fatal reactions before treatment, those who had systemic reactions during VIT, those with honeybee allergy, and those treated for less than 5 years. Children who receive 3 to 5 years of VIT have a lasting immune tolerance for 10 to 20 years afterward. Conclusion: The appropriate use of VIT for prevention of insect sting allergy requires knowledge of the natural history of the disease and would benefit from a better understanding of the mechanisms of successful immunotherapy for the induction of immune tolerance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine