Sublingual therapeutic immunization with a polyvalent bacterial preparation in patients with recurrent respiratory infections: immunomodulatory effect on antigen-specific memory CD4+ T cells and impact on clinical outcome

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SummaryRecurrent respiratory tract infections (RRTIs) are common clinical conditions in individuals with alterations of the immune function. A prospective open pilot study in a cohort of patients with RRTIs has been performed to assess whether sublingual immunization with a polyvalent bacterial vaccine could exert an immunomodulatory effect on the antigen-specific immunological responses and have an impact on the clinical outcome. Seventeen patients with RRTIs were recruited. An oral polyvalent bacterial preparation (Bactek®) was administered to all patients daily for 6 months. Immunological assessment was performed at baseline and at the end of immunization. Immunological measurements included: T cell-specific proliferations of CD3+CD4+ and CD3+CD8+ to Bactek® antigens, total immunoglobulin levels, antibodies to pneumococcal polysaccharide and tetanus toxoid and B, T and natural killer (NK) cell subsets. There was a significant increase in the proliferative capacity of CD3+CD4+ T cells specific to Bactek® antigens at month 6 in comparison to baseline (P < 0·0001). A significant increase in total CD3+ T cells was also observed (P < 0·05). No significant differences were observed between baseline and month 6 in levels of total immunoglobulins, specific antibodies and B, T or NK cell subsets. A significant reduction in the patient's rate of RRTIs was observed compared with 1 year prior to initiation of therapy (P < 0·0001). The results demonstrate that long-term administration of a sublingual polyvalent bacterial preparation in patients with RRTIs exerts an immune stimulating effect on CD4+ T helper cell responses to bacterial antigens which could be associated with clinical benefit.

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