Background: Interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-13 have been shown to be potent switch factors for IgE synthesis in human B cells.
Objective: In this study we investigated the effects of recombinant human IL-4 and IL-13 on total and allergen specific IgE synthesis by peripheral blood inononuclear colls (PBMC) from pollen allergic patients and healthy control individuals.
Methods: Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from allergic patients were investigated for their capacity to produce allergen specific IgE in vitro. Total protein extracts from birch pollen and timothy grass pollen as well as purified recombinant birch pollen allergens, Bet v I, birch profiling (Bet v II) and recombinant timothy grass pollen allergens. Phi p I, Phi p II, and Phi p V were used to measure specific IgE-antibody synthesis in cell culture supernatants by IgE-immunoblot and ELISA.
Reults PBMC obtained from allergic patients spontaneously secreted allergen specific IgE in the culture supernatants. Addition of Interleukin 4, Interleukin 13 and anti-CD40 antibody to the cultures alone or in combinations significantly induced total IgE production whereas allergen specific IgE production was not affected.
Conclusion: Our results indicate that the peripheral blood of allergic individuals contains long lived allergen specific B cells which have already switched to IgE production and which are not sensitive to IL-4 and IL-13 treatment. These results may have implications on attempts to use cytokines or cytokine antagonists in therapy of Type I allergy.