Background Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) has been reported to be a safe treatment for inhalant allergies in children. Yet the immunologic mechanisms resulting in clinical improvement are poorly understood.
Objective To identify early systemic immunologic changes during the first 8 weeks of clinically effective SLIT to grass pollen, tree pollen or house dust mite in paediatric patients with allergic rhinoconjunctivitis and/or asthma.
Methods Peripheral blood mononuclear cells and plasma samples of 13 children with reduced symptoms after 1 year of SLIT were obtained before therapy and at 2 and 8 weeks after the initiation of SLIT. Allergen-specific lymphocyte proliferation assays were performed, and allergen-induced cytokine production (IL-2, IL-4, IL-10, IFN-γ, and TGF-β1) was measured by ELISA and flow cytometry. Allergen-specific IgE, IgG1, IgG4, and IgA levels in plasma samples were determined in ELISA.
Results During the first 8 weeks of successful SLIT, allergen-specific lymphoproliferation (n=13) as well as levels of allergen-specific intracellular (n=8) and secreted cytokines (n=9) did not change significantly. In addition, no alterations in levels of allergen-specific Igs (n=7) were observed.
Conclusion We could not find any early systemic immunologic changes during the first 8 weeks of clinically effective SLIT to inhalant allergens in paediatric patients with allergic rhinoconjunctivitis and/or asthma.