Background In allergic individuals exposure to allergen leads to the induction of allergen-specific IgE which, upon binding to its high affinity receptors on mast cells and basophils. primes these cells for degranulation. This degranulation. a result of specific IgE allergen-interaction, initiates the debilitating symptoms of allergy and the potentially life-threatening symptoms of anaphylaxis. The lack of symptoms following antigen encounter by non-allergic individuals is probably due to the undetectable levels of allergen-specific IgE in the plasma of non-allergic individuals.
Objective To compare the immune responses of allergic and non-allergic individuals.
Method We compared the immune responses of 42 cat-allergic subjects with 16 nem-cat-allergic subjects to the major cat allergen. Fel d I. We have measured plasma immunoglobulin levels and the proliferative responses of fel d 1 primed T cell lines to Fel d 1 peptides.
Results While these two groups have similar levels of Fel d 1 specific IgG. only subjects in the cat-allergic group have detectable Fel d 1 specific IgE. Affinity purified Fel d 1 was used to generate T cell lines from peripheral blood mononuclear cells of these same subjects. The proliferative responses of these T cell lines to intact Fel d 1 and a set of overlapping peptides covering the entire sequence of the molecule demonstrated that the pattern of epitope recognition was similar in both groups.
Conclusion Our data suggest that factors other than T cell recognition of specific epitopes are responsible for the nature of allergic immune responses generated when allergen is encountered.