Effectiveness of maintenance bee venom immunotherapy administered at 6-month intervals

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2007 Oct;99(4):352-7. doi: 10.1016/S1081-1206(10)60552-2.


Background: Extension of the intervals at which maintenance venom immunotherapy (MVIT) is administered has been attempted for many years. However, published evidence on its effect, especially in intervals of longer than 3 months, is sparse.

Objective: To examine whether the administration of a bee venom (BV) maintenance dose at 6-month intervals is safe and efficacious.

Methods: The 3-month intervals at which venom-allergic patients were receiving their MVIT were gradually extended to 6 months. Systemic reactions (SRs) to immunotherapy injections or to field stings were regularly recorded. Patients who were allergic to BV alone or also to other venoms were deliberately sting challenged by a honeybee after reaching the 6-month interval.

Results: The 3-month intervals were extended in 47 patients. A single patient (2%) developed an SR after receiving the injection at an interval of 4 months. Two field stings in 2 patients resulted in a mild SR in 1 patient. Of 14 sting-challenged patients, 3 (21%) developed an SR after the challenge. The 3 SRs occurred only among the 8 patients (38%) who were allergic to BV alone. The 3 patients with the SR to the challenge continued to receive the regular maintenance dose at monthly intervals 3 to 5 more times. Repeated sting challenges were then well tolerated in all 3 patients.

Conclusion: The administration of MVIT at 6-month intervals does not provide suitable protection in BV-allergic patients, and they should continue MVIT at the accepted 1- to 3-month intervals.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bee Venoms / administration & dosage*
  • Bee Venoms / immunology
  • Bee Venoms / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Desensitization, Immunologic / methods*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / immunology
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / prevention & control*
  • Insect Bites and Stings / immunology
  • Middle Aged
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Bee Venoms