A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of sublingual versus oral immunotherapy for the treatment of peanut allergy

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2015 May;135(5):1275-82.e1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2014.11.005. Epub 2014 Dec 18.


Background: Although promising results have emerged regarding oral immunotherapy (OIT) and sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) for the treatment of peanut allergy (PA), direct comparisons of these approaches are limited.

Objective: This study was conducted to compare the safety, efficacy, and mechanistic correlates of peanut OIT and SLIT.

Methods: In this double-blind study children with PA were randomized to receive active SLIT/placebo OIT or active OIT/placebo SLIT. Doses were escalated to 3.7 mg/d (SLIT) or 2000 mg/d (OIT), and subjects were rechallenged after 6 and 12 months of maintenance. After unblinding, therapy was modified per protocol to offer an additional 6 months of therapy. Subjects who passed challenges at 12 or 18 months were taken off treatment for 4 weeks and rechallenged.

Results: Twenty-one subjects aged 7 to 13 years were randomized. Five discontinued therapy during the blinded phase. Of the remaining 16, all had a greater than 10-fold increase in challenge threshold after 12 months. The increased threshold was significantly greater in the active OIT group (141- vs 22-fold, P = .01). Significant within-group changes in skin test results and peanut-specific IgE and IgG4 levels were found, with overall greater effects with OIT. Adverse reactions were generally mild but more common with OIT (P < .001), including moderate reactions and doses requiring medication. Four subjects had sustained unresponsiveness at study completion.

Conclusion: OIT appeared far more effective than SLIT for the treatment of PA but was also associated with significantly more adverse reactions and early study withdrawal. Sustained unresponsiveness after 4 weeks of avoidance was seen in only a small minority of subjects.

Keywords: Peanut allergy; food allergy; immunotherapy; oral immunotherapy; sublingual immunotherapy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Administration, Sublingual
  • Adolescent
  • Allergens / administration & dosage
  • Allergens / immunology
  • Arachis / adverse effects
  • Child
  • Desensitization, Immunologic* / adverse effects
  • Desensitization, Immunologic* / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Male
  • Peanut Hypersensitivity / diagnosis
  • Peanut Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Peanut Hypersensitivity / therapy*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Skin Tests
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Allergens
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin E