J Allergy Clin Immunol 2002 Feb;109(2):274-80
University Children's Hospital, Freiburg, Germany.
Background: Specific immunotherapy (SIT) and treatment with monoclonal anti-IgE antibody have complementary modes of action.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine whether combined therapy could provide better efficacy than either treatment alone.
Methods: We conducted a randomized, double-blinded trial to assess the efficacy and safety of subcutaneously administered anti-IgE (omalizumab) or placebo in children and adolescents with seasonal allergic rhinitis in both a birch pollen season and a grass pollen season (sequential seasons together lasting an average of 84 days). There were 4 treatment arms. Each subject was started on SIT-birch or SIT-grass, and anti-IgE or placebo was started before and maintained during the anticipated pollen seasons (a total of 24 weeks). The primary efficacy variable was symptom load, the sum of daily symptom severity score plus rescue medication use.
Results: A total of 221 subjects (intent-to-treat population) aged 6 to 17 years were analyzed for efficacy. Combination therapy reduced symptom load over the 2 pollen seasons by 48% (P <.001) over SIT alone. When analyzed separately by season, the 2 groups receiving unrelated SIT were considered placebo controls. In the grass season, symptom loads were as follows: unrelated (birch) SIT + placebo, 0.89 (reference value); unrelated (birch) SIT + anti-IgE, 0.49 (-45%); SIT-grass + placebo, 0.61 (-32%); SIT-grass + anti-IgE, 0.26 (-71%).
Conclusion: Anti-IgE therapy conferred a protective effect independent of the type of allergen. Additional clinical benefit was demonstrated in both pollen seasons, whether there was coverage by SIT or not. This combination might prove useful for the treatment of allergic rhinitis, particularly for polysensitized patients.