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Clin Exp Allergy. 1997 Sep;27(9):1007-15.

Immunological changes during specific immunotherapy of grass pollen allergy: reduced lymphoproliferative responses to allergen and shift from TH2 to TH1 in T-cell clones specific for Phl p 1, a major grass pollen allergen.

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1
Institute of General and Experimental Pathology, University of Vienna, Austria.

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE:

The mechanisms operative in specific immunotherapy (SIT) of Type I allergy are not completely understood. In the present study we evaluated immunological changes during SIT in pollinosis.

METHOD:

Eight patients suffering from pollinosis (monosensitized to grass pollen) were treated with conventional SIT. All subjects had IgE specific for Phl p 1, a major allergen of timothy grass. In vitro changes in the immunological reactivity to grass pollen extract and to recombinant Phl p 1 were evaluated. Subjects were examined at three occasions: before, after 3 months and after 1 year of SIT.

RESULTS:

Serological analysis revealed a marked increase of grass pollen- and Phl p 1-specific IgG, titres of specific IgE did not change significantly. Lymphoproliferative responses to grass pollen extract and rPhl p 1 were reduced already after 3 months of treatment. Accordingly, the cloning efficiency for Phl p 1-specific T-cell clones (TCC) dropped markedly in all patients. The majority of allergen-specific TCC raised before SIT revealed a TH2-like pattern of cytokine production, TCC established after SIT revealed TH1 characteristics. This shift was due to a decrease in IL-4 rather than an increase in IFN-production by T cells. Investigations of the epitopes recognized by T cells before and after SIT did not reveal the outgrowth of new ('protecting') specificities. We could not observe induction of allergen-specific CD8+ lymphocytes (supressor cells).

CONCLUSION:

Our data indicate that -- on the level of TH lymphocytes -- SIT induces tolerance to the allergen and a modulation of the cytokine pattern produced in response to allergen stimulation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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