Revisiting Atopic March: Clinical Overview and Treatment Options

Atopic March was first
described more than 20 years ago as “the natural history of atopic
manifestations, characterized by a typical sequence of progression of clinical
signs of atopic disease, with some signs becoming more prominent while others
subside. (1)

Allergies Develop in Clusters: Predictable

The concept of Atopic
March has changed throughout time and is understood to be the progression of
atopic dermatitis to other atopic conditions, including but not limited to
asthma, allergic rhinitis, food allergy, and eosinophilic esophagitis in a
nonlinear pattern. The atopic conditions stated above may be present in some
cases or all of them. Also, the distinct trajectories of disease progression
are likely reproducible and representative of the phenotypes observed in
clinical practice. (1)

A recent study on
Atopic March indicated that poly sensitization, atopic dermatitis persistence,
parental atopy, early age of onset, and greater disease severity are the risk
factor for atopic diseases. (1)

Atopic Disease: Indian Epidemiological Review

Atopic Dermatitis: First Manifestation of
Atopic March (2): The prevalence of atopic dermatitis is wide-ranging (3.0–20.5%)
globally. As per ISAAC study the prevalence rate of atopic dermatitis in India
is about 5%. Food allergy is a known provoking cause of atopic
dermatitis, and the prevalence of IgE-mediated food allergy is about 35% in
children affected with atopic dermatitis.
(3) The prevalence rate of food allergy in Indian children was 0.14 % as
per the study, but a sensitization rate was relatively high (19.1%) to food
allergens. (2)

Allergic Asthma and Allergic Rhinitis: End Progression of Atopic March (2): There
are an estimated 37.9 million cases of asthma in India. The prevalence rate rose
from 9% to 29.5% over a span of 20 years and was influenced by demographic
changes. The
prevalence of allergic rhinitis has gradually risen in India in the last two
decades. Allergic rhinitis and asthma coexist in 70–80% of Indian patients, add
the disease burden.

Early Diagnosis Vital for Atopic March

Given that allergic
diseases occur in early life, appropriate treatment of allergies can prevent
and alter the natural history of allergic diseases. Optimal treatment requires
accurate determination of triggering allergens. (4) Early biomarkers of atopic
susceptibility help target allergy and introduce preventive measures to
high-risk infants, enabling early interventions to decrease allergic severity.
(5) Focused treatment of allergic diseases in childhood might reduce the
allergic disease burden in later life as a mechanism of atopic march underlies
the clinical syndrome of another Atopic disease. (5)

Atopic March Management- Brief Overview: The similar mechanism
of disease generation offers the possibility of rational treatments in atopic
diseases. The main goal of the treatment is to interrupt the inflammatory
cascade and inhibit the chemicals generated by an allergic reaction from the
response on the epithelium. (6)

Antihistamines form
the cornerstone of treatment for allergic disorders. (6) They improve allergic
symptoms at sites other than the nose, such as the conjunctiva, palate, skin,
and lower airways. (7) Leukotriene receptor antagonists play a role in various
atopic diseases, as they exert their biological effects by binding to specific
G-protein-coupled receptors. (8) Corticosteroids attenuate cytokine and
chemokine release, reduce the mucosa’s inflammatory cell infiltration, and play
a vital role in atopic diseases. (6)

Antihistamines for the Management of Atopic
March: Antihistamines inhibit
sensorineural stimulation, vascular dilatation, vascular permeability, and
smooth muscle contraction in nasal/lower airways, gastrointestinal axis, and
within the skin. (9) Using first-generation antihistamines are considerably
limited by side effects, mainly sedation. Second-generation antihistamines have
been demonstrated to decrease allergy symptoms with less sedating effectively,
and Fexofenadine is the least sedating. (7)

Why Fexofenadine? Clinical Evidence:

Allergic Rhinitis: A meta-analysis evaluated data from the metanalysis of
double-blind, randomized controlled clinical trials to assess the efficacy and
safety of Fexofenadine in allergic rhinitis. In 2664 patients receiving
Fexofenadine (2662 placebo), a significant reduction of total symptoms scores
(SMD −0.33; CI 95% −0.39 to −0.28 p < 0.00001) was found. Positive results
were demonstrated for sneezing, rhinorrhea, itching, and congestion. No
significant differences were reported in adverse events between active and
placebo (OR 0.99; CI 95% 0.82 to 1.19 p= 0.90). Such evidence will encourage the consideration of
Fexofenadine for treating allergic rhinitis. (10)

Allergic Wheal: In a recent study
conducted in Brazil, ten healthy adults were subjected to the histamine test to
compare the effect of the H1-antihistamines most used in the local clinical
practice (including fexofenadine). Two hours after intake, all antihistamines,
including fexofenadine, significantly reduced the wheal (p < 0.02) and the
flare compared to the control. Fexofenadine 180 mg compared with desloratadine
5 mg significantly reduced histamine-induced flares (61% versus + 2%, respectively:
p < 0.05) and wheals (p < 0.05) at 2 hours after treatment in adults and
adolescents. (11)

Indian Evidence: An Indian study
evaluated the efficacy of Fexofenadine in the Indian population (N=200) with
allergic rhinitis and chronic urticaria. These patients have been treated with
Fexofenadine 120mg once daily for allergic rhinitis and Fexofenadine 180mg for
chronic urticaria for 7 days. The efficacy based on the medication
effectiveness scale score noted the benefit from 3rd day by marking a moderate
relief (symptoms noticeably improved) and a complete remission on 7th day
(symptoms not present) in most patients. The findings noted that Fexofenadine
is highly effective in the Indian population (p<0.001) suffering from
allergic rhinitis and chronic urticaria. (12)

Dosage Regiment and Safety Profile Summary:

The recommended dose
of Fexofenadine in adults is 60 mg PO BID or 180 mg PO daily. For children 2-12
years old: 30 mg PO BID; for children older than 12 years old: 60 mg PO BID or 180
mg PO daily. (13)

Fexofenadine is
well-tolerated, and discontinuation due to adverse effects generally occurs in
less than 5% of patients. (11)

Take-Home Message:

Atopic march is the progression of atopic dermatitis and
subsequent development of other atopic diseases, including asthma, allergic
rhinitis, food allergy, and eosinophilic esophagitis.
Allergic disorders are a major worldwide health concern,
including in India.Since allergic diseases occur in early life, early recognition
and intervention may reduce the Atopic march burden in later life.Antihistamines form the cornerstone of treatment for allergic
disorders. Fexofenadine, a second-generation antihistamine, is effective
and safe in treating various atopic disorders.


1. Spergel JM, Du Toit G,
Davis CM. Might biologics serve to interrupt the atopic march? [published
online ahead of print, 2023 Jan 19].
J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2023;S0091-6749(23)00005-2.

2. Krishna MT, Mahesh PA,
Vedanthan P, Moitra S, Mehta V, Christopher DJ. An appraisal of allergic
disorders in India and an urgent call for action.
World Allergy Organ J.
2020;13(7):100446. Published 2020 Aug 1. doi:10.1016/j.waojou.2020.100446

3. Bantz SK, Zhu Z, Zheng
T. The Atopic March: Progression from Atopic Dermatitis to Allergic
Rhinitis and Asthma.
J Clin
Cell Immunol. 2014;5(2):202. doi:10.4172/2155-9899.1000202

4. Douglass JA, O’Hehir
RE. 1. Diagnosis, treatment and prevention of allergic disease: the
Med J Aust.
2006;185(4):228-233. doi:10.5694/j.1326-5377.2006.tb00539.x

5. Zainal NHM, Abas R,
Mohamad Asri SF. Childhood Allergy Disease, Early Diagnosis, and the
Potential of Salivary Protein Biomarkers.
Mediators Inflamm. 2021;2021:9198249. Published 2021 Oct 8.

6. H
Kim, J Bouchard, PM Renzi. The link between allergic rhinitis and asthma:
A role for antileukotrienes? Can Respir J 2008;15(2):91-98.

7. Scadding GK, Kariyawasam HH,
Scadding G, et al. BSACI guideline for the diagnosis and management of
allergic and non-allergic rhinitis (Revised Edition 2017; First edition
Clin Exp Allergy.
2017;47(7):856-889. doi:10.1111/cea.12953

8. Jo-Watanabe A, Okuno T, Yokomizo T.
The Role of Leukotrienes as Potential Therapeutic Targets in Allergic
Int J Mol Sci.
2019;20(14):3580. Published 2019 Jul 22. doi:10.3390/ijms20143580

9. Jacques C, Floris I.
How an Immune-Factor-Based Formulation of Micro-Immunotherapy Could
Interfere with the Physiological Processes Involved in the Atopic
Int J Mol Sci.
2023;24(2):1483. Published 2023 Jan 12. doi:10.3390/ijms24021483

10. Compalati E, Baena-Cagnani R,
Penagos M, et al. al Efficacy and Safety
Of Fexofenadine In Allergic Rhinitis (AR): A Metanalysis. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, The, 2009-02-01, Volume
123, Issue 2

11. Ansotegui, I.J., Bernstein, J.A.,
Canonica, G.W.
et al. Insights
into urticaria in pediatric and adult populations and its management with
fexofenadine hydrochloride.
Asthma Clin Immunol 18,
41 (2022).

12. Bikash
Medhi. Efficacy of Fexofenadine in the Indian Population suffering from
Allergic Rhinitis & Chronic Urticaria. 2006. JK Science. Vol. 8 No. 2,

13. Craun KL, Schury MP. Fexofenadine.
[Updated 2022 Dec 5]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL):
StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:

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