Allergen immunotherapy: an updated review of safety

Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2017 Feb;17(1):55-59. doi: 10.1097/ACI.0000000000000335.


Purpose of review: Allergen immunotherapy is the only modality that can modify the immune response upon exposure to aeroallergens and venom allergens. This review will update the allergist on recent studies evaluating safety of sublingual and subcutaneous allergen immunotherapy.

Recent findings: Multiple clinical trials and retrospective studies have been published evaluating overall safety of these therapies. The risk of systemic reactions with subcutaneous immunotherapy remains quite low, but near-fatal and fatal anaphylaxis does occur, requiring physicians to be aware of potential risks for such events. Sublingual immunotherapy has a high incidence of local site application reactions, but severe anaphylactic events are very uncommon.

Summary: Subcutaneous immunotherapy and sublingual immunotherapy are beneficial in treating allergic rhinitis and venom hypersensitivity but should be administered only by physicians familiar with potential risk factors and able to manage treatment-related local and systemic allergic reactions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Sublingual
  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Anaphylaxis / etiology
  • Anaphylaxis / prevention & control
  • Animals
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Desensitization, Immunologic / adverse effects
  • Desensitization, Immunologic / methods*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / complications
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Hypersensitivity / therapy*
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Risk


  • Allergens