Introduction: Immunoglobulin E (IgE) is a key pathogenic factor of allergic rhinitis, a prevalent disease adversely affecting quality of life and productivity.
Areas covered: Binding of inhaled allergens to IgE on the surface of basophils and mast cells, with subsequent cross-linkage of IgE and aggregation of high-affinity receptors for IgE (FcϵRI), triggers the release of inflammatory mediators, followed by the onset of allergic rhinitis symptoms. Current therapeutic strategies include corticosteroids, mast cell stabilizers, leukotriene receptor antagonists, anticholinergics, antihistamines and allergen immunotherapy. Removal of circulating free IgE by the recombinant humanized monoclonal anti-IgE antibody, omalizumab (Xolair), represents a novel therapeutic approach. Omalizumab selectively binds to the Cϵ3 domain of IgE at the site of FcϵR1 binding, thus blocking binding of IgE to effector cells. We review omalizumab's clinical efficacy, administration, use with immunotherapy and safety in allergic rhinitis.
Expert opinion: Omalizumab may provide a new treatment strategy for allergic rhinitis. The high cost of omalizumab precludes its chronic use for allergic rhinitis and it is not FDA approved for this indication; however, its periodic use may be justified in treatment resistant patients, especially those with seasonal disease.