Background Allergen-specific immunotherapy (SIT) is associated with increased levels of allergen-specific IgG in serum. However, it is not clear to what extent qualitative changes in the allergen binding capacity of IgG may be induced as well.
Objective The purpose of this study was to investigate the influences of SIT on antibody affinity.
Methods The binding affinity of purified serum IgG1, IgG4 and IgE to the major allergen in birch (Betula verrucosa) pollen, Bet v 1, was analysed by surface plasmon resonance. The antibodies were obtained from 10 birch pollen-allergic patients receiving SIT and from 10 patients with no SIT.
Results The patients having received SIT have a significant higher titre of anti-Bet v 1 antibodies in their blood, but the affinity to Bet v 1 of allergen-specific IgE, IgG1 and IgG4 does not differ between the two groups. For IgG1 and IgG4, correlations between less allergic symptoms and affinity of the antibodies were observed both in the SIT group and to a smaller extent in the non-SIT group.
Conclusion SIT has no effect on antibody affinity of allergen-specific IgE, IgG1 or IgG4. Allergic patients with high-affinity IgG1 and IgG4 antibodies report less symptoms than patients with low-affinity antibodies.