Allergy injections into lymph nodes?
Q. I have seen some information on the internet that suggests that allergy shots can be more effective if given directly into a lymph node. Is this correct? If so, is this something that is available now?
A. The concept of injecting immunologic material within a lymph node (or intralymphatic) has existed for a number of years, mainly in the setting of experimental anti-cancer therapy. Targeted cancer immunotherapy, placed directly into a lymph node, may more effectively target the source of problems at a lower dose than would otherwise be needed. As we are always looking for ways to improve treatment of allergies, this idea is being studied - among many others - to determine its potential.
An article published in 2008 by researchers in Switzerland indicates this new approach might work well in allergy treatment (Senti G, et al Proc Natl Acad Sci U.S.A. 2008; 105:17908-17912). In this study of 165 people, a series of 4 doses of grass immunotherapy were injected into an inguinal (groin) lymph node. The intralymphatic therapy was found as effective in this group as those recieving 3 years of traditional allergy immunotherapy (subcutaneous immunotherapy). Subsequently, the same researchers in Switzerland have also shown its effectiveness in treating allergies to cat dander, and bee venom - but these later studies were done in mice, not humans. Intralymphatic allergen immunotherapy treatment remains experimental at present and is not available as a treatment in the United States.