, Volume 3, Issue 5, pp 447-453

Immunotherapy in fungal allergy

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For decades airborne fungal spores have been implicated as causative factors in respiratory allergy. Exposure to high atmospheric spore counts and sensitization to specific fungal allergens have been associated with severe asthma, mainly in young adults. Although the prevalence of sensitization to commercial fungal extracts is approximately 3% in epidemiologic studies, in selected patients, particularly with asthma, the sensitization rate might increase to 30%. Of the estimated number of more than 1 million of different fungal species, approximately 80 fungi have been connected with respiratory allergy. Currently, diagnosis and specific therapy of fungal allergy is hampered by the poor quality of most of the commercially available extracts. Clinical efficacy of specific immunotherapy with fungal extracts has been shown in 79 actively treated patients in four controlled trials, with only two fungal species, namely Alternaria alternata and Cladosporium herbarum. The use of recombinant fungal allergens might create new prospects in diagnosis and specific immunotherapy for fungal allergy.