Author(s): Erik Wambre, Jonathan H DeLong, Eddie A James, Rebecca E LaFond, Rebecca E LaFond
The main obstacle to elucidating the role of CD4(+) T cells in allergen-specific immunotherapy (SIT) has been the absence of an adequately sensitive approach to directly characterize rare allergen-specific T cells without introducing substantial phenotypic modifications by means of in vitro amplification.
We sought to monitor, in physiological conditions, the allergen-specific CD4(+) T cells generated during natural pollen exposure and during allergy vaccination.
Alder pollen allergy was used as a model for studying seasonal allergies. Allergen-specific CD4(+) T cells were tracked and characterized in 12 subjects with alder pollen allergy, 6 nonallergic subjects, and 9 allergy vaccine-treated subjects by using peptide-MHC class II tetramers.
Allergen-specific CD4(+) T cells were detected in all of the subjects with alder pollen allergy and nonallergic subjects tested. Pathogenic responses--chemoattractant receptor homologous molecule expressed on T(H)2 lymphocytes (CRTH2) expression and T(H)2 cytokine production--are specifically associated with terminally differentiated (CD27(-)) allergen-specific CD4(+) T cells, which dominate in allergic subjects but are absent in nonallergic subjects. In contrast, CD27(+) allergen-specific CD4(+) T cells are present at low frequencies in both allergic and nonallergic subjects and reflect classical features of the protective immune response with high expression of IL-10 and IFN-γ. Restoration of a protective response during SIT appears to be due to the preferential deletion of pathogenic (CD27(-)) allergen-specific CD4(+) T cells accompanied by IL-10 induction in surviving CD27(+) allergen-specific CD4(+) T cells.
Differentiation stage divides allergen-specific CD4(+) T cells into 2 distinct subpopulations with unique functional properties and different fates during SIT.Immunogenetics: Open Access