Apple allergy is common in patients allergic to birch pollen, and this is defined as 'birch-apple syndrome'. Allergens responsible for cross-reactivity belong to the pathogenesis-related-10 family, and high homology in the amino acid sequences of the major allergens Bet v 1 from birch and Mal d 1 from apple has been demonstrated. Here we review the literature on the treatment of birch-apple syndrome by allergen immunotherapy. The only allergen immunotherapy method available thus far is based on the administration of birch-pollen extracts, through the subcutaneous or sublingual route, to induce tolerance to Bet v1 and to the homologous allergen Mal d 1. However, the studies performed thus far show modest efficacy, and thus other methods of immunotherapy should be investigated.
Keywords: allergen immunotherapy; apple; birch pollen; birch-apple syndrome; cross-reactivity; pathogenesis-related proteins.