Does evidence support the use of cat allergen immunotherapy?

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Cat allergy can manifest as allergic rhinitis, conjunctivitis and/or asthma. With widespread cat ownership and exposure, cat allergy has emerged as a major cause of morbidity. Cat allergen immunotherapy is a potential disease modifying treatment for patients with cat allergy. We examine evidence on the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and safety of cat allergen immunotherapy and consider the clinical contexts in which it should be prescribed.

Recent findings

The European Association of Allergy and Clinical Immunology systematic reviews on allergic rhinitis and asthma along with the accompanying guidelines on allergic rhinitis were used as primary sources of evidence. Subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) and sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) are most common routes of administration for allergen immunotherapy (AIT). A limited number of high-quality studies related to cat dander have shown mixed results in improvements in ocular and nasal symptoms, asthma symptoms, peak expiratory flow rate and medication use scores with subcutaneous immunotherapy. Two studies examining cat dander and cat-related allergy response with sublingual immunotherapy have shown mixed results in terms of symptomatic response. One randomized trial examining intralymphatic immunotherapy has shown a positive symptom response and a favourable safety profile. Although studies have reported mixed results regarding safety of SCIT, adverse events have been reported more commonly with SCIT than SLIT.

Summary

There is a limited body of high-quality evidence on the effectiveness and safety of cat AIT and no high-quality data on its cost-effectiveness. The available evidence on effectiveness is mixed based on studying a limited array of immunological, physiological and patient-reported outcome measures. Based on this evidence and extrapolating on the wider evidence base in AIT, it is likely that some patients may benefit from this modality of treatment, particularly those with moderate-to-severe disease who are inadequately controlled on allergen avoidance measures and pharmacotherapy and those who are monosensitized to Felix Domesticus 1. Further evidence is, however, required from larger trials before more definitive advice can be offered.

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