Challenge of the nasal mucosa of allergic subjects with specific allergen induces not only the expected sneezing and rhinorrhea, but also the appearance in nasal secretions of mediators commonly associated with activation of mast cells or basophils: histamine, leukotrienes, prostaglandin D2 (PGD2), kinins, and TAME ([3H]-N-alpha-tosyl-L-arginine methyl ester)-esterase. To determine whether specific immunotherapy alters mediator release in vivo, nasal pollen challenge was used to compare 27 untreated highly sensitive ragweed (RW)-allergic subjects with 12 similarly sensitive patients receiving long-term immunotherapy (3-5 yr) with RW extract (median dose, 6 micrograms RW antigen E). The two groups were equally sensitive based on skin tests and basophil histamine release. The immunized group had a diminished response as demonstrated by (a) the treated group required higher pollen doses to excite sneezing or mediator release; (b) significantly fewer subjects in the treated group released mediators at any dose (TAME-esterase [P = 0.005], PGD2 [P = 0.04]), and (c) the treated group released 3-5-fold less mediator (TAME-esterase [P = 0.01], and histamine [P = 0.02]).
P S Creticos, N F Adkinson Jr, A Kagey-Sobotka, D Proud, H L Meier, R M Naclerio, L M Lichtenstein, P S Norman