Background: Parasitic helminth infections can protect against allergic airway inflammation in experimental models and have been associated with a reduced risk of atopy and a reduced course of asthma in some observational studies. Although no clinical evidence exists to support the use of helminth therapy for allergic disease, the helminth Trichuris suis has demonstrated efficacy in treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.
Objective: To determine efficacy of helminth therapy for allergic rhinitis.
Methods: We conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group trial in which 100 subjects age 18 to 65 years with grass pollen-induced allergic rhinitis were randomly assigned to ingest a total of 8 doses with 2500 live T suis ova or placebo with an interval of 21 days. The primary outcome was a change in mean daily total symptom score for runny, itchy, sneezing nose (maximum change, 9.0) or in percentage of well days during the grass pollen season.
Results: Treatment with T suis ova (N = 49) compared with placebo (N = 47) caused transient diarrhea peaking at day 41 in 33% of participants (placebo, 2%), and increased eosinophil counts (P < .001) and T suis-specific IgE (P < .05), IgG (P < .001), IgG(4) (P < .003), and IgA (P < .001), whereas there was no significant change in symptom scores (0.0; 95% CI, -0.5 to 0.4; P = .87), well days (3%; 95% CI, -9% to 14%; P = .63), total histamine (P = .44), grass-specific IgE (P = .76), or diameter of wheal reaction on skin prick testing with grass (P = .85) or 9 other allergens.
Conclusion: Repeated treatment with the helminth T suis induced a substantial clinical and immunologic response as evidence of infection, but had no therapeutic effect on allergic rhinitis.
Copyright 2010 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.