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Clin Exp Allergy. 2003 Sep;33(9):1266-72.

Measurement of basophil-activating capacity of grass pollen allergens, allergoids and hypoallergenic recombinant derivatives by flow cytometry using anti-CD203c.

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Allergopharma Joachim Ganzer KG, R&D Department, Reinbek, Germany.



The assessment of the basophil-activating potential is an important aspect in the development of improved preparations for specific immunotherapy. The aim of the study was to evaluate the suitability of CD203c expression as a measure of basophil activation to compare allergoids with original allergen extracts, and recombinant hypoallergenic allergen derivatives with recombinant wild-type and natural allergens.


Heparinized whole blood samples from grass pollen allergic subjects were stimulated with grass pollen allergens and allergen derivatives followed by labelling of the basophils with PE-conjugated anti-CD203c. After lysis of the erythrocytes and fixation, the basophils were detected by flow cytometry. In some experiments, histamine release was determined simultaneously.


Grass pollen allergoids revealed a 10-10 000-fold reduction of basophil-activating capacity measured by CD203c expression. The deletion mutant DM4 of rPhl p 5b showed stronger hypoallergenic characteristics in a range of 50-10 000-fold reduction, whereas a combination mutant of rPhl p 5b and Phl p 6 revealed less hypoallergenic features. Histamine release experiments led to a similar outcome as CD203c measurement.


The measurement of CD203c expression on basophils by flow cytometry provides a rapid and sensitive method for the estimation of the allergic or hypoallergenic features of allergen preparations. The results demonstrated the hypoallergenicity of grass pollen allergoids and of the rPhl p 5b variant DM4, which may be a candidate in future preparations for specific immunotherapy.

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