Birgit Linhart

Medical University of Vienna, Wien, Vienna, Austria

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Publications (45)252.82 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: More than 10% of the population in Europe and North America suffer from IgE-associated allergy to grass pollen. In this article, we describe the development of a vaccine for grass pollen allergen-specific immunotherapy based on two recombinant hypoallergenic mosaic molecules, designated P and Q, which were constructed out of elements derived from the four major timothy grass pollen allergens: Phl p 1, Phl p 2, Phl p 5, and Phl p 6. Seventeen recombinant mosaic molecules were expressed and purified in Escherichia coli using synthetic genes, characterized regarding biochemical properties, structural fold, and IgE reactivity. We found that depending on the arrangement of allergen fragments, mosaic molecules with strongly varying IgE reactivity were obtained. Based on an extensive screening with sera and basophils from allergic patients, two hypoallergenic mosaic molecules, P and Q, incorporating the primary sequence elements of the four grass pollen allergens were identified. As shown by lymphoproliferation experiments, they contained allergen-specific T cell epitopes required for tolerance induction, and upon immunization of animals induced higher allergen-specific IgG Abs than the wild-type allergens and a registered monophosphoryl lipid A-adjuvanted vaccine based on natural grass pollen allergen extract. Moreover, IgG Abs induced by immunization with P and Q inhibited the binding of patients' IgE to natural allergens from five grasses better than IgG induced with the wild-type allergens or an extract-based vaccine. Our results suggest that vaccines based on the hypoallergenic grass pollen mosaics can be used for immunotherapy of grass pollen allergy. Copyright © 2015 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.
    The Journal of Immunology 03/2015; DOI:10.4049/jimmunol.1400402 · 5.36 Impact Factor
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    Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 03/2015; 129. DOI:10.1016/j.jaci.2015.01.015 · 11.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The FAST (food allergy-specific immunotherapy) project aims at developing safe and effective subcutaneous immunotherapy for fish allergy, using recombinant hypoallergenic carp parvalbumin, Cyp c 1. Preclinical characterization and good manufacturing practice (GMP) production of mutant Cyp (mCyp) c 1. Escherichia coli-produced mCyp c 1 was purified using standard chromatographic techniques. Physicochemical properties were investigated by gel electrophoresis, size exclusion chromatography, circular dichroism spectroscopy, reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. Allergenicity was assessed by ImmunoCAP inhibition and basophil histamine release assay, immunogenicity by immunization of laboratory animals and stimulation of patients' peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Reference molecules were purified wild-type Cyp c 1 (natural and/or recombinant). GMP-compliant alum-adsorbed mCyp c 1 was tested for acute toxicity in mice and rabbits and for repeated-dose toxicity in mice. Accelerated and real-time protocols were used to evaluate stability of mCyp c 1 as drug substance and drug product. Purified mCyp c 1 behaves as a folded and stable molecule. Using sera of 26 double-blind placebo-controlled food-challenge-proven fish-allergic patients, reduction in allergenic activity ranged from 10- to 5,000-fold (1,000-fold on average), but with retained immunogenicity (immunization in mice/rabbits) and potency to stimulate human PBMCs. Toxicity studies revealed no toxic effects and real-time stability studies on the Al(OH)3-adsorbed drug product demonstrated at least 20 months of stability. The GMP drug product developed for treatment of fish allergy has the characteristics targeted for in FAST: i.e. hypoallergenicity with retained immunogenicity. These results have warranted first-in-man immunotherapy studies to evaluate the safety of this innovative vaccine. © 2015 S. Karger AG, Basel.
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    ABSTRACT: Immunoglobulin (Ig)E-associated food allergy affects approximately 3% of the population and has severe effects on the daily life of patients—manifestations occur not only in the gastrointestinal tract but affect also other organ systems. Birth cohort studies have demonstrated that allergic sensitization to food allergens develops early in childhood. Mechanisms of pathogenesis include cross-linking of mast cell- and basophil-bound IgE and immediate release of inflammatory mediators, as well as late-phase and chronic allergic inflammation, due to T cell, basophil, and eosinophil activation. Researchers have begun to characterize the molecular features of food allergens and developed chip-based assays for multiple allergens. These have provided information about cross-reactivity among different sources of food allergens, identified disease-causing food allergens, and helped us to estimate the severity and types of allergic reactions in patients. Importantly, learning about the structure of disease-causing food allergens has allowed researchers to engineer synthetic and recombinant vaccines.
    Gastroenterology 02/2015; 148(6). DOI:10.1053/j.gastro.2015.02.006 · 13.93 Impact Factor
  • Annals of allergy, asthma & immunology: official publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology 08/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.anai.2014.08.001 · 2.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Vaccines consisting of allergen-derived peptides lacking IgE reactivity and allergen-specific T cell epitopes bound to allergen-unrelated carrier molecules have been suggested as candidates for allergen-specific immunotherapy. To study whether prophylactic and therapeutic vaccination with carrier-bound peptides from the major birch pollen allergen Bet v 1 lacking allergen-specific T cell epitopes has influence on Bet v 1-specific T cell responses. Three Bet v 1-derived peptides, devoid of Bet v 1-specific T cell epitopes, were coupled to KLH and adsorbed to aluminium hydroxide to obtain a Bet v 1-specific allergy vaccine. Groups of BALB/c mice were immunized with the peptide vaccine before or after sensitization to Bet v 1. Bet v 1- and peptide-specific antibody responses were analysed by ELISA. T cell and cytokine responses to Bet v 1, KLH, and the peptides were studied in proliferation assays. The effects of peptide-specific and allergen-specific antibodies on T cell responses and allergic lung inflammation were studied using specific antibodies. Prophylactic and therapeutic vaccination with carrier-bound Bet v 1 peptides induced a Bet v 1-specific IgG antibody response without priming/boosting of Bet v 1-specific T cells. Prophylactic and therapeutic vaccination of mice with the peptide vaccine induced Bet v 1-specific antibodies which suppressed Bet v 1-specific T cell responses and allergic lung inflammation. Vaccination with carrier-bound allergen-derived peptides lacking allergen-specific T cell epitopes induces allergen-specific IgG antibodies which suppress allergen-specific T cell responses and allergic lung inflammation.
    Clinical & Experimental Allergy 02/2014; 44(2):278-87. DOI:10.1111/cea.12216 · 4.32 Impact Factor
  • 01/2014; 4(Suppl 2):P20. DOI:10.1186/2045-7022-4-S2-P20
  • 01/2014; 4(Suppl 2):P33. DOI:10.1186/2045-7022-4-S2-P33
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    07/2013; 3(3). DOI:10.1186/2045-7022-3-S3-O22
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    07/2013; 3(3). DOI:10.1186/2045-7022-3-S3-P177
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    ABSTRACT: IgE antibody-mediated allergies affect more than 25% of the population worldwide. To investigate therapeutic and preventive effects of passive immunization with allergen-specific IgG antibodies on allergy in mouse models we used clinically relevant pollen allergens. In a treatment model, mice were sensitized to the major birch pollen allergen Bet v 1 and to the major grass pollen allergens, Phl p 1 and Phl p 5 and then received passive immunization with rabbit IgG antibodies specific for the sensitizing or an unrelated allergen. In a prevention model, mice obtained passive immunization with allergen-specific rabbit IgG before sensitization. Kinetics of the levels of administered IgG antibodies, effects of administered allergen-specific IgG on allergen-specific IgE reactivity, the development of IgE and IgG responses and on immediate allergic reactions were studied by ELISA, rat basophil leukaemia degranulation assays and skin testing, respectively. Treated mice showed an approximately 80% reduction of allergen-specific IgE binding and basophil degranulation which was associated with the levels of administered allergen-specific IgG antibodies. Preventive administration of allergen-specific IgG antibodies suppressed the development of allergen-specific IgE and IgG(1) antibody responses as well as allergen-induced basophil degranulation and skin reactivity. Our results show that passive immunization with allergen-specific IgG antibodies is effective for treatment and prevention of allergy to clinically important pollen allergens in a mouse model and thus may pave the road for the clinical application of allergen-specific antibodies in humans.
    Immunobiology 10/2012; 218(6). DOI:10.1016/j.imbio.2012.10.008 · 3.18 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Development of antigen-specific preventive strategies is a challenging goal in IgE-mediated allergy. We have recently shown in proof-of-concept experiments that allergy can be successfully prevented by induction of durable tolerance via molecular chimerism. Transplantation of syngeneic hematopoietic stem cells genetically modified to express the clinically relevant grass pollen allergen Phl p 5 into myeloablated recipients led to high levels of chimerism (i.e. macrochimerism) and completely abrogated Phl p 5-specific immunity despite repeated immunizations with Phl p 5. It was unclear, however, whether microchimerism (drastically lower levels of chimerism) would be sufficient as well which would allow development of minimally toxic tolerance protocols. Bone marrow cells were transduced with recombinant viruses integrating Phl p 5 to be expressed in a membrane-anchored fashion. The syngeneic modified cells were transplanted into non-myeloablated recipients that were subsequently immunized repeatedly with Phl p 5 and Bet v 1 (control). Molecular chimerism was monitored using flow cytometry and PCR. T cell, B-cell and effector-cell tolerance were assessed by allergen-specific proliferation assays, isotype levels in sera and RBL assays. Here we demonstrate that transplantation of Phl p 5-expressing bone marrow cells into recipients having received non-myeloablative irradiation resulted in chimerism persisting for the length of follow-up. Chimerism levels, however, declined from transient macrochimerism levels to persistent levels of microchimerism (followed for 11 months). Notably, these chimerism levels were sufficient to induce B-cell tolerance as no Phl p 5-specific IgE and other high affinity isotypes were detectable in sera of chimeric mice. Furthermore, T-cell and effector-cell tolerance were achieved. Low levels of persistent molecular chimerism are sufficient to induce long-term tolerance in IgE-mediated allergy. These results suggest that it will be possible to develop minimally toxic conditioning regimens sufficient for low level engraftment of genetically modified bone marrow.
    Clinical & Experimental Allergy 08/2012; 42(8):1282-92. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2222.2012.04049.x · 4.32 Impact Factor
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    Birgit Linhart, Rudolf Valenta
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    ABSTRACT: Vaccines aim to establish or strengthen immune responses but are also effective for the treatment of allergy. The latter is surprising because allergy represents a hyper-immune response based on immunoglobulin E production against harmless environmental antigens, i.e., allergens. Nevertheless, vaccination with allergens, termed allergen-specific immunotherapy is the only disease-modifying therapy of allergy with long-lasting effects. New forms of allergy diagnosis and allergy vaccines based on recombinant allergen-derivatives, peptides and allergen genes have emerged through molecular allergen characterization. The molecular allergy vaccines allow sophisticated targeting of the immune system and may eliminate side effects which so far have limited the use of traditional allergen extract-based vaccines. Successful clinical trials performed with the new vaccines indicate that broad allergy vaccination is on the horizon and may help to control the allergy pandemic.
    Current opinion in immunology 04/2012; 24(3):354-60. DOI:10.1016/j.coi.2012.03.006 · 7.87 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The FAST project (Food Allergy Specific Immunotherapy) aims at the development of safe and effective treatment of food allergies, targeting prevalent, persistent and severe allergy to fish and peach. Classical allergen-specific immunotherapy (SIT), using subcutaneous injections with aqueous food extracts may be effective but has proven to be accompanied by too many anaphylactic side-effects. FAST aims to develop a safe alternative by replacing food extracts with hypoallergenic recombinant major allergens as the active ingredients of SIT. Both severe fish and peach allergy are caused by a single major allergen, parvalbumin (Cyp c 1) and lipid transfer protein (Pru p 3), respectively. Two approaches are being evaluated for achieving hypoallergenicity, i.e. site-directed mutagenesis and chemical modification. The most promising hypoallergens will be produced under GMP conditions. After pre-clinical testing (toxicology testing and efficacy in mouse models), SCIT with alum-absorbed hypoallergens will be evaluated in phase I/IIa and IIb randomized double-blind placebo-controlled (DBPC) clinical trials, with the DBPC food challenge as primary read-out. To understand the underlying immune mechanisms in depth serological and cellular immune analyses will be performed, allowing identification of novel biomarkers for monitoring treatment efficacy. FAST aims at improving the quality of life of food allergic patients by providing a safe and effective treatment that will significantly lower their threshold for fish or peach intake, thereby decreasing their anxiety and dependence on rescue medication.
    03/2012; 2(1):5. DOI:10.1186/2045-7022-2-5
  • Birgit Linhart, Rudolf Valenta
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    ABSTRACT: Hundred years ago therapeutic vaccination with allergen-containing extracts has been introduced as a clinically effective, disease-modifying, allergen-specific and long-lasting form of therapy for allergy, a hypersensitivity disease affecting more than 25% of the population. Today, the structures of most of the disease-causing allergens have been elucidated and recombinant hypoallergenic allergen derivatives with reduced allergenic activity have been engineered to reduce side effects during allergen-specific immunotherapy (SIT). These recombinant hypoallergens have been characterized in vitro, in experimental animal models and in clinical trials in allergic patients. This review provides a summary of the molecular, immunological and preclinical evaluation criteria applied for this new generation of allergy vaccines. Furthermore, we summarize the mechanisms underlying SIT with recombinant hypoallergens which are thought to be responsible for their therapeutic effect.
    Vaccine 11/2011; 30(29):4328-35. DOI:10.1016/j.vaccine.2011.11.011 · 3.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Tropomyosins represent clinically relevant seafood allergens but the role of mite tropomyosin, Der p 10, in house dust mite (HDM) allergy has not been studied in detail. To express and purify a recombinant Der p 10 with equivalent IgE reactivity as natural Der p 10 and to evaluate its IgE reactivity and allergenic activity in HDM-allergic patients. rDer p 10 was expressed in Escherichia coli, purified and characterized by mass spectrometry and circular dichroism. It was tested for IgE reactivity in 1322 HDM-allergic patients. Detailed IgE-reactivity profiles to six HDM allergens (Der p 1, 2, 5, 7, 10, 21) were established for subgroups of Der p 10-positive and -negative patients. The allergenic activity of rDer p 10 was evaluated in basophil degranulation experiments. rDer p 10 is an α-helical protein sharing IgE epitopes with nDer p 10. It is recognized by 15.2% of HDM-allergic patients. Der p 10-negative patients were primarily sensitized to Der p 1 and/or Der p 2, whereas Der p 10-positive patients reacted to several other HDM allergens besides the major allergens (Der p 1, Der p 2) or showed a rather selective Der p 10 reactivity. The allergenic activity of Der p 10 was generally low but patients could be identified who suffered from clinically relevant HDM allergy due to Der p 10 sensitization. Der p 10 may be a diagnostic marker for HDM-allergic patients with additional sensitization to allergens other than Der p 1 and Der p 2. Such patients may require attention when allergen-specific immunotherapy is considered.
    Clinical & Experimental Allergy 06/2011; 41(10):1468-77. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2222.2011.03798.x · 4.32 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: IgE-mediated allergies affect more than 25% of the population. Allergen-specific immunotherapy (SIT) is an antigen-specific and disease-modifying form of treatment. It is based on the therapeutic administration of the disease-causing allergens to allergic patients. However, the fact that only allergen extracts of insufficient quality are currently available and the possible occurrence of side effects during treatment limit the broad use of SIT and prophylactic vaccination is has not yet been performed. In the last 20 years the DNA sequences of the most common allergens have been isolated and the corresponding allergens have been produced as recombinant allergens. Based on the progress made in the field of allergen characterization it is possible to improve the quality and safety of allergy vaccines and to develop new, more effective strategies for a broad application of SIT and even for prophylactic treatment. Here we discuss the development of combination vaccines for allergy and infectious diseases. This approach is based on the selection of allergen-derived peptides with reduced IgE- and T cell reactivity in order to minimize IgE- and T cell-mediated side effects as well as the potential of the vaccine to induce allergic sensitization. These peptides are fused by recombinant technology onto a viral carrier protein to obtain a combination vaccine which induces protective immunity against allergy and viral infections. The application of such combination vaccines for therapy and prophylaxis of allergy and infectious diseases is discussed.
    Current topics in microbiology and immunology 05/2011; 352:121-40. DOI:10.1007/82_2011_130 · 3.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Staphylococcus aureus superinfections occur in more than 90% of patients with atopic dermatitis (AD) and aggravate skin inflammation. S aureus toxins lead to tissue damage and augment T-cell-mediated skin inflammation by a superantigen effect. To characterize IgE-reactive proteins from S aureus. A genomic S aureus library was screened with IgE from patients with AD for DNA clones coding for IgE-reactive antigens. One was identified as fibronectin-binding protein (FBP). Recombinant FBP was expressed in Escherichia coli, purified, and tested for specific IgE reactivity in patients with AD. Its allergenic activity was studied in basophil activation experiments and T-cell cultures. The in vivo allergenic activity was investigated by sensitizing mice. Using IgE from patients with AD for screening of a genomic S aureus library, an IgE-reactive DNA clone was isolated that coded for FBP. Recombinant FBP was expressed in E coli and purified. It reacted specifically with IgE from patients with AD and exhibited allergenic activity in basophil degranulation assays. FBP showed specific T-cell reactivity requiring antigen presentation and induced the secretion of proinflammatory cytokines from PBMCs. Mice sensitized with FBP mounted FBP-specific IgE responses, showed FBP-specific basophil degranulation as well as FBP-specific T-cell proliferation, and mixed T(h)2/T(h)1 cytokine secretion. Evidence is provided that specific humoral and cellular immune responses to S aureus antigens dependent on antigen presentation represent a novel mechanism for S aureus-induced skin inflammation in AD. Furthermore, FBP may be used for the development of novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for S aureus infections.
    The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology 04/2011; 128(1):82-91.e8. DOI:10.1016/j.jaci.2011.02.034 · 11.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Allergen-specific immunotherapy is clinically effective for the treatment of cat allergy but shows a high rate of side effects. We sought to engineer recombinant fusion proteins for cat immunotherapy that allow reducing both IgE-mediated and T cell-mediated side effects. Fusion proteins consisting of the hepatitis B virus-derived PreS domain and 2 nonallergenic Fel d 1-derived peptides were expressed in Escherichia coli and purified. IgE reactivity and allergenic activity of Fel d 1 and the fusion proteins were compared by using IgE-binding assays and basophil activation tests in patients with cat allergy. Mice and rabbits were immunized subcutaneously with Fel d 1 and the fusion proteins to investigate the allergenicity of the vaccines and the development of Fel d 1-specific IgG antibodies. The recombinant fusion proteins showed no relevant IgE reactivity and exhibited more than 1000-fold reduced allergenic activity in basophil activation tests. On immunization of mice and rabbits, the fusion proteins induced Fel d 1-specific IgG antibodies that inhibited the binding of allergic patients' IgE to the allergen without allergic sensitization to Fel d 1. The described recombinant fusion proteins exhibit strongly reduced IgE-mediated allergenic activity, contain less than 40% of the Fel d 1 sequence, and thus lack many of the specific T-cell epitopes. Therefore they should represent safe vaccines for the treatment of cat allergy.
    The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology 03/2011; 127(6):1562-70.e6. DOI:10.1016/j.jaci.2011.02.004 · 11.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Allergic inflammation is based on the cross-linking of mast cell and basophil-bound IgE Abs and requires at least two binding sites for IgE on allergens, which are difficult to characterize because they are often conformational in nature. We studied the IgE recognition of birch pollen allergen Bet v 1, a major allergen for >100 million allergic patients. Monoclonal and polyclonal Abs raised against Bet v 1-derived peptides were used to compete with allergic patients' IgE binding to Bet v 1 to search for sequences involved in IgE recognition. Strong inhibitions of patients' IgE binding to Bet v 1 (52-75%) were obtained with mAbs specific for two peptides comprising aa 29-58 (P2) and aa 73-103 (P6) of Bet v 1. As determined by surface plasmon resonance, mAb2 specific for P2 and mAb12 specific for P6 showed high affinity, but only polyclonal rabbit anti-P2 and anti-P6 Abs or a combination of mAbs inhibited allergen-induced basophil degranulation. Thus, P2 and P6 define a surface patch on the Bet v 1 allergen, which allows simultaneous binding of several different IgE Abs required for efficient basophil and mast cell activation. This finding explains the high allergenic activity of the Bet v 1 allergen. The approach of using peptide-specific Abs for the mapping of conformational IgE epitopes on allergens may be generally applicable. It may allow discriminating highly allergenic from less allergenic allergen molecules and facilitate the rational design of active and passive allergen-specific immunotherapy strategies.
    The Journal of Immunology 03/2011; 186(9):5333-44. DOI:10.4049/jimmunol.1000804 · 5.36 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

1k Citations
252.82 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2005–2015
    • Medical University of Vienna
      • • Department of Pathophysiology and Allergy Research
      • • Center for Pathophysiology, Infectiology and Immunology
      Wien, Vienna, Austria
    • Ferdowsi University Of Mashhad
      Mashad, Razavi Khorasan, Iran
  • 2004–2008
    • Vienna General Hospital
      Wien, Vienna, Austria
  • 2007
    • Brigham and Women's Hospital
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2002
    • Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz
      • Institute of Chemistry
      Gratz, Styria, Austria