News Release

Wednesday, 7 December 2011
Media Contact:

Sofia Dorsano,

Note to media: See abstract 4193

Specific recognition of the major birch pollen allergen Bet v 1 programs
dendritic cells to induce either Th2 or tolerogenic responses

CANCÚN – Ursula Smole and co-workers from the Medical University of Vienna, Austria today presented important findings on the factors that influence whether an individual becomes sensitized or tolerant upon exposure to allergens.

A limited number of proteins have the potential to induce Th2-polarized immune responses and specific Immunoglobulin E (IgE) in genetically predisposed individuals. Why the contact with an allergen results either in allergic sensitization or in tolerance induction has hitherto remained unclear. The investigators focused on the in-depth study of uptake, induction of signal transduction pathways, and gene regulation in monocyte-derived dendritic cells (MoDCs) of allergic and normal individuals in response to the major birch pollen (BP) allergen Bet v 1.0101 and its structural homolog from celery, Api g 1.0101.

The study, supported by grant SFB-F1802 of the Austrian Science Fund, showed for the first time that allergen uptake is specific and similar in dendritic cells from allergic and healthy individuals. More important, the ensuing signal cascade that is triggered by the allergen differs between dendritic cells of the two donor groups and results in a Th2-polarized immune response in allergic individuals as compared to ignorance/tolerance in normal donor cells.

Dr. Moises A. Calderón, of the Royal Brompton Hospital, Imperial College School of Medicine, London, UK added to these findings: “Understanding the mechanisms and pathways of how Bet v 1 can program dendritic cells to induce either aberrant Th2 responses in allergic individuals or tolerogenic/ignorance responses in non-allergics will aid tailoring allergen specific immunotherapy, where the desirable effects are to induce long-term clinical tolerance.”

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