J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2005 Nov;116(5):1073-9. Epub 2005 Oct 3. 

Sublingual immunotherapy for hazelnut food allergy: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study with a standardized hazelnut extract.

Allergy Department, Hospital General de Castellon, Castellon, Spain. eenriquemiranda@hotmail.com

BACKGROUND: Food allergy may be life-threatening, and patients affected need to receive accurate diagnoses and treatment. Hazelnut has often been implicated as responsible for allergic reactions, and trace quantities can induce systemic reactions. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and tolerance of sublingual immunotherapy with a standardized hazelnut extract in patients allergic to hazelnut. METHODS: This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Inclusion criteria were a history of hazelnut allergy and positive skin prick test and double-blind placebo-controlled food challenge results. Patients were then randomly assigned into 2 treatment groups (hazelnut immunotherapy or placebo). Efficacy was assessed by double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenge after 8 to 12 weeks of treatment. Blood samples were drawn for measurement of specific IgE, IgG(4), and serum cytokines before and after treatment. RESULTS: Twenty-three patients were enrolled and divided into 2 treatment groups. Twenty-two patients reached the planned maximum dose at 4 days. Systemic reactions were observed in only 0.2% of the total doses administered. Mean hazelnut quantity provoking objective symptoms increased from 2.29 g to 11.56 g (P = .02; active group) versus 3.49 g to 4.14 g (placebo; NS). Moreover, almost 50% of patients who underwent active treatment reached the highest dose (20 g), but only 9% in the placebo. Laboratory data showed an increase in IgG(4) and IL-10 levels after immunotherapy in only the active group. CONCLUSION: Our data confirm significant increases in tolerance to hazelnut after sublingual immunotherapy as assessed by double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenge, and good tolerance to this treatment.