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Hydrocortisone enhances allergen-specific IgE production by peripheral blood mononuclear cells from atopic patients with high serum allergen-specific IgE levels


H.-B. Moon Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Department of Medicine, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, 388–1 Pungnap -Dong, Songpa-Gu, Seoul, Korea



Although there is convincing evidence that human B cells can be induced to produce IgE by a combination of interleukin 4 (IL-4) and hydrocortisone (HC) in atopic subjects, it is still uncertain if this performs the same functions in allergen-specific IgE synthesis.


This study was designed to investigate the differences of IgE regulation between atopics and nonatopics, interactions of HC with IL-4, and the correlation between in vitro total IgE, allergen-specific IgE synthesis and serum IgE levels.


Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from 16 atopic asthma patients sensitive to Dermatophagoides farinae and seven nonatopic controls were cultured with IL-4 and/or HC. Total IgE and D. farinae-specific IgE in culture supernatant were measured by ELISA and FAST.


IL-4 increased total IgE synthesis in PBMCs from both atopics and nonatopics, whereas, HC had this effect only in some atopics who showed spontaneous IgE production in vitro. HC acted synergistically with IL-4 in total IgE synthesis. Their effects were more remarkable in cases with lower total serum IgE levels. PBMCs from eight of 16 atopics produced D. farinae-specific IgE in vitro either spontaneously or by IL-4 and/or HC. HC had more profound effects than IL-4 in these patients. They also showed higher total IgE synthesis by HC, and higher specific serum IgE levels than the others. IL-4 and/or HC did not induce any D. farinae-specific IgE synthesis by PBMCs from nonatopics.


HC had a more profound effect than IL-4 on the induction of D. farinae-specific IgE synthesis in atopic patients with high serum allergen specific IgE levels. Further studies to determine the causes of these effects, such as the presence of long lived allergen specific B cells as the result of the priming effect of IL-4 in vivo, may be needed.

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