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Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2007;143(2):119-26. Epub 2007 Jan 16.

Role of human leucocyte antigen DQ in the presentation of T cell epitopes in the major cow's milk allergen alphas1-casein.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology/Allergology, University Medical Center, Utrecht, The Netherlands.



Little is known about the association between human leucocyte antigen (HLA) and cow's milk allergy (CMA). The aim of the present study was to determine the HLA restriction of T cell clones (TCCs) specific to alphas1-casein, the most abundant milk protein, and to study possible HLA class II allele associations with CMA.


alphas1-Casein-specific TCCs were derived from 6 children with CMA, 9 atopic children without CMA and 5 non-atopic children. T cell epitope specificity was defined by stimulation with overlapping peptides, spanning the alphas1-casein molecule. HLA restriction was determined in proliferation assays using antibodies blocking either HLA-DP, HLA-DQ or HLA-DR. HLA genotyping was performed in 32 subjects with CMA, 23 atopic and 22 non-atopic individuals.


Ten TCCs were restricted to HLA-DQ, 6 TCCs to HLA-DR and 4 TCCs to HLA-DP. The sequence in alphas1-casein that was most immunogenic to T cells from children with CMA contained T cell epitopes restricted to DQB1*0201, DPB1*0401 and DRB1*1501. The DQB1*0501 allele frequency was lower in children with CMA than in non-atopic children, but this difference could not be confirmed in an additional group of subjects with and without CMA.


HLA-DQ plays a substantial role in the presentation of T cell epitopes in alphas1-casein. However, HLA class II allele frequencies do not show major differences between cow's milk allergic, atopic and non-atopic subjects. T cell epitopes in the most immunogenic region are presented by various abundantly present HLA genotypes. Therefore, this sequence may be a suitable target for peptide immunotherapy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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