Advances in upper airway diseases and allergen immunotherapy

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2006 May;117(5):1047-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2005.12.1306. Epub 2006 Mar 6.


The purpose of this review is to highlight important articles on upper airway disease and immunotherapy that appeared in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and elsewhere during 2005. In recent studies of tissue from patients with chronic hypertrophic eosinophilic sinusitis, increased leukotriene C4 synthase and 5-lipoxygenase activity and increased levels of cysteinyl leukotriene production were demonstrated that correlated with disease severity but not with whether the patient was aspirin sensitive. However, the cysteinyl leukotriene 1 receptor was increased in leukocytes in the sinus tissue only in those patients with aspirin sensitivity. Major basic protein, released by eosinophils into the mucus in the paranasal sinus lumen, was found to reach concentrations capable of damaging the sinus epithelium, predisposing to bacterial infections. Testing the hypothesis that chronic hypertrophic eosinophilic sinusitis represents a reaction to common fungi, a double-blind trial of intranasal instillation of amphotericin B was conducted. There were marginal but significant differences in favor of amphotericin B treatment for sinus mucosal thickening on the basis of computed tomography and the evidence of eosinophilic inflammation in the sinus mucus. The effectiveness of topical nasal corticosteroids for treatment of nasal polyps was confirmed in 2 large studies. Improvement in sleep quality and daytime drowsiness in patients with allergic rhinitis treated with nasal corticosteroids was reported to correlate with reduction in nasal obstruction. The statistical analysis behind studies that reported a decrease in asthma exacerbations with nasal corticosteroids or oral antihistamines has been questioned. It appears that the results of at least one of these studies are indeed too good to be true. Although caution is still indicated in administering immunotherapy to patients receiving beta-adrenergic blocking agents, the prohibition might not be absolute. A study in patients with Hymenoptera sensitivity given venom immunotherapy revealed no increase in serious adverse reactions to venom injections and no greater incidence of reactions to insect stings in those taking beta-blocking agents. Sublingual immunotherapy for 8 to 12 weeks in patients with hazelnut sensitivity significantly increased their tolerance to hazelnut in double-blind, placebo-controlled challenges while inducing increased IgG4 and IL-10 levels, indicating induction of regulatory T cells. There were a number of articles in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in 2005 that addressed the entity of chronic hypertrophic eosinophilic sinusitis. In addition, an update of the "Practice parameters on sinusitis" was published. The major focus in allergen immunotherapy continues to be sublingual administration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / adverse effects
  • Allergens / immunology
  • Allergens / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Desensitization, Immunologic / methods*
  • Desensitization, Immunologic / trends*
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / methods
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / trends
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / drug therapy
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / immunology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / therapy*


  • Allergens