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Phleum pratense-specific T cells of allergic rhinitis patients display a broader recognition pattern than Phleum pratense-specific serum immunoglobulin E


van Neerven Tanox Pharma BV, Kruislaan 318, 1098 SM, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



The role of allergen-specific CD4+ T lymphocytes in the pathophysiology of atopic disease is well established. Previous studies on allergen-specific T-cell responses have focused on the recognition of single major allergens to identify T-cell epitopes.


However, it is not clear whether immune responses to allergen extracts are exclusively targeted at major allergens or whether additional proteins are recognized.


Here we describe the Phleum pratense-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) and T-cell responses of six allergic rhinitis patients. Reactivity was measured to size-separated fractions of a P. pratense extract as well as to the purified major allergens Phl p 1, Phl p 2/3 and Phl p 5.


The specificity of the patients' serum IgE, measured in a fluid phase assay, was restricted to one or two of the major allergens. Even though the majority of the patients had IgE antibodies reactive with a single major allergen, one patient reacted with both Phl p 5 and with Phl p 2/3. Analysis of the T-cell repertoire with P. pratense-specific T-cell lines (TCLs) and CD4+ T-cell clones (TCCs) revealed that at least six different proteins were recognized, including the three major allergens, most notably Phl p 5. Simultaneous production of IL-5 and interferon (IFN) -γ was detected in supernatants of the TCLs stimulated with P. pratense extract and the major allergens.


These results indicate that allergic rhinitis patients have a large pool of circulating allergen-specific CD4+ T cells that recognize many different proteins in an allergenic extract, whereas only a small number of these proteins are recognized by serum IgE.

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