Clin Exp Immunol. 1997 Oct; 110(1): 114-21.
IL-5 production by allergen-stimulated T cells following grass pollen immunotherapy for seasonal allergic rhinitis.
Upper Respiratory Medicine, Imperial College School of Medicine at National Heart and Lung Institute, London, UK.
Grass pollen immunotherapy for the treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis ('summer hayfever') results in improvement in symptoms, a reduction in the early and late phase responses to allergen provocation and decreased tissue eosinophilia. Immunotherapy may act by altering the pattern of cytokine production by allergen-specific T cells from a 'Th2-type' (IL-4 and IL-5) profile to a 'Th1-type' (interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma)) profile. We set out to determine whether clinical improvement following specific allergen immunotherapy is accompanied by reduced production of the pro-eosinophilic and archetypal 'Th2-type' cytokine, IL-5. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were isolated from (i) 13 patients who had received 6 or 7 years' continuous conventional immunotherapy with timothy grass pollen (Phleum pratense); (ii) 14 patients who had received 3 or 4 years of conventional immunotherapy followed by 3 years of placebo treatment; (iii) 12 matched seasonal rhinitic patients who had never received immunotherapy; and (iv) 17 non-atopic normal controls. PBMC were stimulated with 20 microg/ml and 200 microg/ml P. pratense extract, or 10 microg/ml of Mycobacterium tuberculosis purified protein derivative (PPD), at 2 x 10(6) cells/ml and 5 x 10(6) cells/ml. IL-5 concentrations in culture supernatants collected after 6 days' culture were measured by ELISA. IL-5 production in response to stimulation with P. pratense extract was highly reproducible and was elevated in both of the immunotherapy treated groups and the untreated rhinitics relative to non-atopic controls (P<0.005 for each group relative to non-atopic controls, under each of the four conditions tested). However, no significant reduction was observed in IL-5 production when immunotherapy treated patients were compared with untreated rhinitic controls. Moreover, abrogation of the cutaneous late-phase responses to allergen following treatment was not associated with reduced IL-5 production by allergen-stimulated peripheral blood T cells. Reduced IL-5 production by peripheral blood T cells may not be necessary for immunotherapy to be effective. Local immunodulation of T cell responses may play a role in this form of treatment.