Allergoids are widely used in specific immunotherapy for the treatment of IgE-mediated allergic diseases.Objective
The aim of this study was to analyse whether a modification of birch pollen allergens with formaldehyde affects the availability of T-cell epitopes.Methods
Efficient modification of the allergens was verified by determining IgE and IgG binding activity using ELISA inhibition tests. T-cell responses to birch pollen allergoids were analysed in polyclonal systems, using peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of five birch pollen-allergic individuals, as well as birch pollen extract-reactive T-cell lines (TCL), established from the peripheral blood of 14 birch pollen-allergic donors. To determine whether the modification of natural (n)Bet v 1 with formaldehyde or maleic anhydride results in epitope-specific changes in T-cell reactivities, 22 Bet v 1-specific T-cell clones (TCC), established from nine additional birch pollen-allergic individuals, were tested for their reactivity with these products.Results
The majority of PBMC and TCL showed a reduced response to the birch pollen extract allergoid. Bet v 1-specific TCC could be divided into allergoid-reactive and -non-reactive TCC. No simple correlation between possible modification sites of formaldehyde in the respective T-cell epitopes and the stimulatory potential of the allergoid was observed. Mechanisms of suppression or of anergy induction were excluded as an explanation for the non-reactivity of representative TCC. All TCC could be stimulated by maleylated and unmodified nBet v 1 to a similar extent.Conclusion
These results demonstrate differences in the availability of T-cell epitopes between allergoids and unmodified allergens, which are most likely due to structural changes within the allergen molecule.