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Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2004 Aug;4(4):313-8.

Mechanisms of immunotherapy: IgG revisited.

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Immunology, HAES Research, Syngenta, CTL, Macclesfield, Cheshire, UK.



This paper will review historical and recent evidence for the induction of 'blocking' IgG antibodies during successful specific immunotherapy.


Specific immunotherapy is frequently associated with a rise in allergen-specific IgG4 antibodies and a modest reduction in specific IgE titres, although this does not always correlate with clinical efficacy. There is accumulating evidence that specific immunotherapy also influences the blocking activity on IgE-mediated responses by IgG4, and cellular assays are commonly used to investigate these changes. Recently, a novel assay, which detects allergen-IgE binding using flow cytometry, has been used to detect 'functional' specific immunotherapy-induced changes in IgG antibody activity. Results suggest that successful specific immunotherapy is associated with an increase in IgG blocking activity that is not solely dependent on the quantity of IgG antibodies.


Successful immunotherapy is associated with quantitative and qualitative changes in the allergen-specific IgG antibody response. The induction of IgG antibodies with blocking activity may have a protective role not only through the inhibition of allergen-induced, IgE-mediated release of inflammatory mediators from mast cells and basophils, but also through the inhibition of IgE-facilitated antigen presentation to T cells. Qualitative changes in the allergen-specific IgG antibody response may possibly be an important mechanism underlying the clinical efficacy of specific immunotherapy. Monitoring changes in blocking activity using cellular assays may give an early indication of the potential success of treatment.

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