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Clinical & Experimental Allergy

Allergenicity and immunogenicity of the major mugwort pollen allergen Art v 1 chemically modified by acetylation


Tanja Cirkovic Velickovic, Faculty of Chemistry, Department of Biochemistry, University of Belgrade, Studentski trg 16, 11 000 Belgrade, Serbia. E-mail:


Background Treating allergies with modified allergens is an approach to make the treatment safer and more efficient. Art v 1 is the most prominent allergen of mugwort pollen and a significant cause of hayfever around Europe. The aim of this study was to reduce the allergenicity of Art v 1 by acetylation, and to investigate the capacity of the modified protein to generate blocking antibodies.

Methods The reduction of allergenicity of Art v 1 following acetylation was monitored by immunoblot, ELISA inhibition using a pool of sera from mugwort pollen allergic patients, basophil activation assay and by skin prick testing of mugwort-allergic patients. Rabbits were immunized against Art v 1 and acetylated Art v 1 (acArt v 1) and the rabbit antisera were tested for their capacity to block human IgE binding in ELISA. Human T cell proliferation against Art v 1 and acArt v 1 was examined in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of mugwort pollen allergic patients and cytokine release in PBMC cultures was monitored.

Results Acetylation of Art v 1 gave a derivative of reduced allergenicity in the in vitro and ex vivo tests applied. The skin test reactivity to acArt v 1 was significantly reduced in 19 patients when compared with the reactivity to Art v 1. Rabbit antibodies to acArt v 1 and Art v 1 showed similar capacity to block human IgE binding to Art v 1 in inhibition ELISA. Both proteins were able to induce proliferation of PBMCs and CD3/CD4+ cells of mugwort-allergic patients. Release of IL-5 was significantly reduced in cultures stimulated with acArt v 1.

Conclusions Art v 1 modified by acetylation had a significantly reduced allergenicity in vitro and in vivo, while its immunogenicity was retained. Modification of allergens by acetylation could be a new strategy for allergen-specific immunotherapy.

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