Mechanisms of allergen-specific immunotherapy

Swiss Institute of Allergy and Asthma Research (SIAF), University of Zurich, Davos, Switzerland.
The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology (Impact Factor: 12.05). 01/2011; 127(1):18-27; quiz 28-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2010.11.030
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Allergen-specific immunotherapy has been used for 100 years as a desensitizing therapy for allergic diseases and represents the potentially curative and specific method of treatment. The mechanisms of action of allergen-specific immunotherapy include the very early desensitization effects, modulation of T-and B-cell responses and related antibody isotypes, and migration of eosinophils, basophils, and mast cells to tissues, as well as release of their mediators. Regulatory T (Treg) cells have been identified as key regulators of immunologic processes in peripheral tolerance to allergens. Skewing of allergen-specific effector T cells to a regulatory phenotype appears as a key event in the development of healthy immune response to allergens and successful outcome in patients undergoing allergen-specific immunotherapy. Naturally occurring forkhead box protein 3-positive CD4(+)CD25(+) Treg cells and inducible T(R)1 cells contribute to the control of allergen-specific immune responses in several major ways, which can be summarized as suppression of dendritic cells that support the generation of effector T cells; suppression of effector T(H)1, T(H)2, and T(H)17 cells; suppression of allergen-specific IgE and induction of IgG4; suppression of mast cells, basophils, and eosinophils; and suppression of effector T-cell migration to tissues. New strategies for immune intervention will likely include targeting of the molecular mechanisms of allergen tolerance and reciprocal regulation of effector and Treg cell subsets.

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