Modulation of regulatory T cells by intranasal allergen immunotherapy in an experimental rat model of airway allergy

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Allergic airway diseases such as asthma and allergic rhinitis are increasing in prevalence worldwide. The theory of an altered Th1/Th2 balance in allergic diathesis has recently been termed a “procrustean paradigm” as it failed to explain many preclinical findings. Regulatory T cells (Treg) have now been shown to be critical in T-cell homeostasis and in the maintenance of peripheral tolerance to allergens. Allergen specific immunotherapy (SIT) has been shown to induce regulatory T cells in allergic patients. Among various types of SIT, intranasal immunotherapy had not been studied in detail for the treatment of allergic airway diseases. So, there was a need to study the contribution of regulatory T cells and their mechanistic pathways following intranasal immunotherapy in-vivo. It had been previously shown that intranasal allergen immunotherapy using Alstonia scholaris pollen extract abrogates allergic airway inflammation with decline in IgE and Th2 cytokine levels. The present study for the first time offers a multi-targeted approach towards attenuation of airway allergy by the generation of CD4 + CD25 + Foxp3 + T cells and other subsets of Treg cells like Tr1 cells, Th3 cells, CTLA4 + Treg cells, and also modulation of various Treg cell surface molecules like GITR, OX40, CD39 and CD73 by intranasal immunotherapy in the same animal model. This animal experiment will thus help to chart out newer molecular targets for treating allergic asthma or rhinitis.

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