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Keywords:

  • aeroallergen;
  • asthma;
  • experimental protocol;
  • laboratory rodents;
  • sensitization

Summary

Conventional rodent models of respiratory allergy that employ intraperitoneal sensitization to aeroallergen plus adjuvant, have offered greatly to our current knowledge of the pathophysiology of allergic airway diseases. Notwithstanding this significant contribution, non-adjuvant aided sensitization via respiratory presentation of the allergen, is more naturally relevant and more closely mimics the human exposure. Nevertheless, in the experimental setting, primary respiratory exposure to inert antigen is likely to lead to inhalation tolerance. Inasmuch as divergent and discrepant results are often reported in experimental models employing this method of sensitization, we set out to review the relative literature and identify and discuss factors that are liable to interfere in such protocols and modify the immune response, hence leading to variable outcomes. Protocol design features (including the use of anaesthesia, the nature and dosage of the antigen and the strain/age/sex and handling of the animals) as well as environmental factors (including airborne substances, viruses and lipopolysaccharide) have been identified as key modulators of the immune response that evolves, following primary airway exposure of laboratory rodents to aeroallergen. Delineation of the effect of those factors to induction or abrogation of inhalation tolerance can have important implications in the design of both improved experimental protocols of respiratory allergy and methods to intercept sensitization to inert aeroallergens in the clinical field.