Association of SCIT with autoimmune disease, heart disease and mortality


Subcutaneous allergen-specific immunotherapy (SCIT) is used to treat IgE-mediated allergic disease, but there is very little knowledge about whether SCIT might act as a trigger of autoimmune disease.

SCIT, also known as allergy shots, are injections of the allergen in a specialist clinical setting in order to encourage the body’s immune system to tolerate the allergen and produce a normal immune response as opposed to the allergic reaction that those with allergies experience.

Researchers from the Research Centre for Prevention and Health, Glostrup University Hospital, Glostrup, Denmark, looked at all Danish citizens without any known diseases except allergies, and followed their medical progress through central registries on medications and hospital admissions. Those receiving SCIT were compared to those receiving conventional allergy treatment (CAT) such as nasal steroids or oral antihistamines with regard to mortality, development of autoimmune diseases, acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and ischemic heart disease (IHD).

Cox regression (survival analysis) with age as the underlying time scale was used to estimate relative risks associated with SCIT compared with CAT adjusted for age, sex, vocational status and income. Over 10 years, 18,841 people using SCIT and 428,484 using CAT were followed, and it was found that receiving SCIT was associated with lower mortality, lower incidence of AMI and autoimmune disease.

Source: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

First published in October 2011

More research on the management of allergy

Top of page