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Acta Otolaryngol. 1998 Mar;118(2):243-7.

Seasonal rise in interleukin-4 during pollen season is related to seasonal rise in specific IgE for pollens but not for mites.

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Department of Otolaryngology, Osaka City University Medical School, Osaka, Japan.


Since IL-4 plays a key role in inducing and increasing the generation of not only primary polyclonal but also secondary specific IgE responses by B lymphocytes, a seasonal increase in IL-4 is likely to be involved in such seasonal rises in specific IgE in seasonal allergic rhinitis. The first aim of this study was to investigate the possible seasonal increase in serum IL-4 in patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis due to Japanese cedar pollens. If serum IL-4 increases in response to seasonal pollen exposure and is responsible for the seasonal increase in pollen-specific IgE in sera, this increase in IL-4 might theoretically affect specific IgE synthesis for other allergens. The second aim was to investigate the effect of natural pollen exposure on serum concentrations of house dust mite-specific IgE in patients who have seasonal allergic rhinitis and concurrent perennial allergic rhinitis due to house dust mites. This study included 55 adult patients with seasonal and perennial allergic rhinitis due to Japanese cedar pollens and Dermatophagoides farinae (D. farinae). Venous blood was collected twice from each patient, before and during the cedar pollen season 1996, to determine IL-4, cedar pollen-specific IgE and D. farinae-specific IgE in sera. Both IL-4 and pollen-specific IgE in sera were significantly increased during the pollen season, and the seasonal increase rate in pollen-specific IgE was significantly correlated with the seasonal increase rate in IL-4. By contrast, D. farinae-specific IgE was not changed during the pollen season in these patients. In conclusion, an elevation of IL-4 in sera during the pollen season may play an important part in the seasonal rise in pollen-specific IgE, and enhancement of specific IgE synthesis is likely to need not only an increase in IL-4 but also an increase in the number and/or capacity of specific IgE-secreting B cells.

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