The rationale of specific "desensitization" treatment as now employed for the relief of hay fever and asthma is based on the premise that the injection of specific antigen causes a diminution of its specific antibody in the host with resultant actual hyposensitization and increased tolerance for the offending substance (antigen). On the other hand, many workers hold that nonspecific agents exercise their power by altering the reactivity of the whole organism through stimulation of cells. Both forms of therapy—specific and nonspecific—possibly exert their influence through the sympathetic nervous system. The beneficial effects resulting from treatment with specific antigens are generally conceded to be more prompt and lasting than those obtained with nonspecific antigens. Nevertheless, the occurrence of certain complications in patients with allergic diseases frequently is an indication for supplementary nonspecific therapy. The administration of both forms of therapy usually involves the introduction of foreign protein into the tissues.
PESHKIN MM, MESSER W. ASTHMA IN CHILDREN: XII. INFLUENCE OF SPECIFIC AND NONSPECIFIC TREATMENT ON THE DIFFERENTIAL LEUKOCYTE COUNT, WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO THE EOSINOPHILS. Am J Dis Child. 1935;50(6):1374–1403. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1935.01970120026003
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