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Chem Immunol Allergy. 2008;94:158-77. doi: 10.1159/000155000.

T-cell regulatory mechanisms in specific immunotherapy.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine and Allergology, Wroclaw Medical University, Wroclaw, Poland.


Allergen-specific immunotherapy (SIT) is the only treatment which leads to a lifelong tolerance against previously disease-causing allergens due to restoration of normal immunity against allergens. The description of T-regulatory (Treg) cells being involved in prevention of sensitization to allergens has led to great interest whether they represent a major target for allergen-SIT and whether it would be possible to manipulate Treg cells to increase its efficacy. Activationinduced cell death, anergy and/or immune response modulation by Treg cells are essential mechanisms of peripheral T-cell tolerance. There is growing evidence that anergy, tolerance and active suppression are not entirely distinct, but rather represent linked mechanisms possibly involving the same cells and multiple suppressor mechanisms. Skewing of allergen-specific effector T cells to Treg cells appears as a crucial event in the control of healthy immune response to allergens and successful allergen-SIT. The Treg cell response is characterized by abolished allergen- induced specific T-cell proliferation and suppressed Thelper (Th)1- and Th2-type cytokine secretion. In addition, mediators of allergic inflammation that trigger cAMP-associated G-protein-coupled receptors, such as histamine receptor-2, may contribute to peripheral tolerance mechanisms. The increased levels of interleukin-10 and transforming growth factor-Beta that are produced by Treg cells potently suppress IgE production, while simultaneously increasing production of non-inflammatory isotypes IgG4 and IgA, respectively. In addition, Treg cells directly or indirectly suppress effector cells of allergic inflammation such as mast cells, basophils and eosinophils. In conclusion, peripheral tolerance to allergens is controlled by multiple active suppression mechanisms. It is associated with regulation of antibody isotypes and effector cells to the direction of a healthy immune response. By the application of the recent knowledge in Treg-dependent mechanisms of peripheral tolerance, more rational and safer approaches are awaited for the future prevention and cure of allergen hypersensitivity.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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