Sublingual vs oral immunotherapy for food allergy: identifying the right approach

Drugs. 2012 Oct 22;72(15):1977-89. doi: 10.2165/11640800-000000000-00000.


The incidence of food allergy in developed countries has increased in recent years, escalating the need to find a suitable form of treatment as an alternative to current management, which includes strict avoidance and ready availability of injectable epinephrine (adrenaline). Allergen immunotherapy is currently being studied for use in the treatment of IgE-mediated food allergy to the most common foods, including peanut, tree nut, milk and egg. Two modalities, oral immunotherapy (OIT) and sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), have shown great promise. Both OIT and SLIT have been able to desensitize subjects to varying degrees, but the two treatment methods differ in doses that can be achieved, duration of treatment, safety profile and ease of use outside the research setting, among other aspects. More research is needed to conclude which mode of treatment is more effective in inducing long-term tolerance with the least amount of serious adverse reactions. However, OIT and SLIT show great promise, and a widespread treatment for food allergy may be within reach.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Administration, Sublingual
  • Allergens / administration & dosage*
  • Allergens / immunology
  • Desensitization, Immunologic / methods*
  • Food Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Food Hypersensitivity / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology


  • Allergens
  • Immunoglobulin E