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J Immunol. 1999 Sep 1;163(5):2944-52.

Blocking antibodies induced by specific allergy vaccination prevent the activation of CD4+ T cells by inhibiting serum-IgE-facilitated allergen presentation.

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ALK-Abelló, Horsholm, Denmark; and Lung and Allergy Clinic, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Allergen-specific CD4+ T lymphocytes are activated at extremely low allergen concentrations in vivo as a result of serum-facilitated allergen presentation (S-FAP). It is not clear at present if specific allergy vaccination (SAV) has an effect on this mechanism. Here we show that birch allergen-specific serum-IgE facilitates the presentation of Bet v 1, the major birch pollen allergen, to Bet v 1-specific CD4+ T lymphocytes by a factor of >100. This process is CD23 mediated, could be detected in sera from the majority of birch-allergic patients, and was clearly dose dependent. S-FAP of Bet v 1 was inhibited in patients undergoing long-term birch SAV, but not by sera from patients undergoing grass SAV, indicating that birch-specific Abs are involved. This resulted in decreased proliferation and IL-4, IL-5, IL-10, and IFN-gamma production of Bet v 1-specific T cells. The inhibition was already noted after 3-9 mo of SAV and could not be solely explained by increased serum levels of birch-specific IgG4. When IgG- and IgA/IgM-containing fractions of long-term SAV sera were used to inhibit S-FAP, only IgG-containing fractions were shown to inhibit S-FAP. These results indicate that blocking IgG Abs induced by SAV inhibits the occurrence of S-FAP at very low allergen concentrations, resulting in significantly higher allergen threshold levels to obtain T cell proliferation and cytokine production and thus allergen-induced late-phase responses.

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