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Allergy Asthma Clin Immunol. 2014 Jun 24;10(1):32. doi: 10.1186/1710-1492-10-32. eCollection 2014.

Th17/Treg ratio derived using DNA methylation analysis is associated with the late phase asthmatic response.

Author information

James Hogg Research Centre for Heart Lung Innovation, St. Paul's Hospital, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Institute for HEART + LUNG Health, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Prevention of Organ Failure (PROOF) Centre of Excellence, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, Vancouver General Hospital, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Department of Medicine, Division of Respiratory Medicine, UBC, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Department of Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada.
Epiontis GmbH, Berlin, Germany.
Quebec Heart and Lung Institute, Laval University, Québec City, QC, Canada.
Contributed equally



The imbalance between Th17 and Treg cells has been studied in various diseases including allergic asthma but their roles have not been fully understood in the development of the late phase asthmatic response.


To determine changes in Th17 and Treg cell numbers between isolated early responders (ERs) and dual responders (DRs) undergoing allergen inhalation challenge. To identify gene expression profiles associated with Th17 and Treg cells.


14 participants (8 ERs and 6 DRs) with mild allergic asthma underwent allergen inhalation challenge. Peripheral blood was collected prior to and 2 hours post allergen challenge. DNA methylation analysis was used to quantifiy the relative frequencies of Th17, Tregs, total B cells, and total T cells. Gene expression from whole blood was measured using microarrays. Technical replication of selected genes was performed using nanoString nCounter Elements.


The Th17/Treg ratio significantly increased in DRs compared to ERs post allergen challenge compared to pre-challenge. Genes significantly correlated to Th17 and Treg cell counts were inversely correlated with each other. Genes significantly correlated with Th17/Treg ratio included the cluster of genes of the leukocyte receptor complex located on chromosome 19q 13.4.


Th17/Treg imbalance post-challenge may contribute to the development of the late phase inflammatory phenotype.


Allergen inhalation challenge; Asthma, Asthmatic response; DNA methylation; Epigenetic cell counting; Peripheral blood; Th17/Treg ratio, nCounter Elements

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