Background: Environmental exposure chambers (EECs) have been used extensively to study allergic rhinoconjunctivitis. Few studies have been published using EECs in conjunctivitis only, and none have used conjunctival allergen challenge as a selection criterion. The present study validated ALYATEC EEC in allergic conjunctivitis to birch pollen.
Methods: Sixteen patients with a positive conjunctival allergen challenge (CAC) were exposed to 60 ng/m3 of Bet v 1 in an EEC on two consecutive days for a maximum of 4 h to validate EEC exposure to birch. Reproducibility was tested among seven of the patients. A conjunctival positive scoring during the CAC and the EEC exposure was defined as a Total Ocular Symptom Score (TOSS) ≥ 5.
Results: Fifty percent of patients had a conjunctival positive scoring during first exposure and 75% during second exposure. The mean time to a conjunctival response was 81.2 ± 33.9 min and 101.6 ± 57 (P > 0.05) during first and second exposure, respectively. No difference in TOSS occurred between the two exposures. The time necessary to obtain a positive response during the CAC was significantly shorter than with the EEC. The estimated quantity of Bet v 1 inducing a positive response was 0.07 ± 0.03 ng (exposure 1), 0.07 ± 0.07 ng (exposure 2), 980 ± 784 ng (CAC). Conjunctival positive scoring and quantity of Bet v 1 was reproducible in all six EEC exposures.
Conclusions: Early conjunctival responses induced by birch allergen exposures in EEC were different than from those identified with direct instillation during CAC. EEC appears to be closer to natural exposure than CAC.
Keywords: birch allergy; conjunctival allergen challenge; conjunctivitis; environmental exposure chamber.