Background Sensitization to natural rubber latex (Hevea brasiliensis) is a major cause of occupational asthma and rhinitis affecting frequent latex-glove users. Hev b 6.01, a known major latex allergen, is cleaved naturally into hevein (4.7 kDa) and a C-terminal fragment (14 kDa). Hevein is an abundant protein in latex-glove extracts. As the immune response to allergens is initiated by activation of allergen-specific CD4+ T cells, identification of dominant T cell epitopes is crucial for the development of specific immunotherapy.
Objective To identify dominant T cell epitopes of Hev b 6.01 in latex-allergic glove users.
Methods Ten latex-allergic frequent glove users and six non-latex-allergic atopic control subjects were selected, based on clinical symptoms and positive latex-specific serum IgE. Serum IgE reactivity to glove extract and recombinant Hev b 6.01 (rHev b 6.01) were analysed by ELISA. Latex-specific short-term oligoclonal T cell lines were generated from peripheral blood of latex-allergic subjects. These lines were tested for proliferative responses to overlapping 20-mer peptides of the Hev b 6.01 molecule. CD4+ T cell intracellular cytokines, IL-4 and IFN-γ were assessed following stimulation with immobilized anti-CD3 in the presence of IL-2.
Results All ten of the latex-allergic patients showed serum IgE binding to glove extract while eight of these also showed IgE binding to rHev b 6.01 by ELISA. Western blotting confirmed reactivity with rHev b 6.01 at around 20 kDa. T cell proliferation assays showed that latex-specific T cell lines from all subjects responded to one or more peptides, with greatest frequency of reactivity to peptides Hev b 6.01 p(10–29) and Hev b 6.01 p(19–38) in the hevein domain. An allergic-type cytokine profile with considerable IL-4 in addition to IFN-γ was evident from intracellular cytokine staining.
Conclusion Hevein is an important T cell as well as B cell immunogen and contains dominant T cell reactive sites.
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