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Vaccines for birch pollen allergy based on genetically engineered hypoallergenic derivatives of the major birch pollen allergen, Bet v 1


Rudolf Valenta, Department of Pathophysiology, University of Vienna, Vienna General Hospital, AKH, Währinger Gürtel 18-20, A-1090 Vienna, Austria.


Background We have recently engineered recombinant derivatives of the major birch pollen allergen Bet v 1 (rBet v 1 fragments and trimer) with strongly reduced allergenic activity.

Objective The aim of this study was the in vivo characterization of potential allergy vaccines based on Al(OH)3-adsorbed genetically modified rBet v 1 derivatives in mice.

Methods BALB/c mice were immunized either with courses of nine injections of increasing doses of Al(OH)3-adsorbed rBet v 1 wild-type, rBet v 1 fragments, rBet v 1 trimer or Al(OH)3 alone in weekly intervals or with three high-dose injections applied in intervals of 3 weeks. Humoral immune responses to rBet v 1 wild-type and homologous plant allergens were measured by ELISA and Western blotting, and the ability of mouse antibodies to inhibit the binding of allergic patients IgE to Bet v 1 was studied by ELISA competition experiments.

Results In both schemes, hypoallergenic rBet v 1 derivatives induced low IgE but high IgG1 responses against rBet v 1 wild-type. The IgG1 antibodies induced by genetically modified rBet v 1 derivatives cross-reacted with natural Bet v 1 and its homologues from alder (Aln g 1) as well as hazel (Cor a 1) and strongly inhibited the binding of birch pollen allergic patients' IgE to Bet v 1 wild-type.

Conclusion Genetically modified hypoallergenic rBet v 1 derivatives induce blocking antibodies in vivo. Their safety and efficacy for the treatment of birch pollen and associated plant allergies can now be evaluated in clinical immunotherapy studies.

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