Background: Co-vaccination with cellular pertussis vaccine down-regulates allergic sensitization to diphtheria and tetanus antigens. Using a murine model, we investigated whether vaccination with diphtheria/tetanus toxoids, administered separately or simultaneously with the whole cell vaccine of Bordetella pertussis, inhibits subsequent allergen-induced immune and inflammatory responses.
Methods: BALB/c-mice were vaccinated intracutaneously with a combination of diphtheria and tetanus toxoids or a combination of diphtheria and tetanus toxoids with a whole cell vaccine of B. pertussis (three times, days −21 to −7) prior to systemic sensitization (days 1–14) and repeated airway challenges (days 28–30) with ovalbumin.
Results: Compared with negative controls, systemic sensitization and airway allergen challenges induced high serum levels of allergen-specific IgE, predominant Th2-type cytokine production, airway inflammation and development of in vivo airway hyperreactivity. Vaccination with diphtheria and tetanus toxoids prior to sensitization suppressed IgE formation and development of eosinophilic airway inflammation. Co-vaccination with a whole cell pertussis vaccine inhibited allergen sensitization, airway inflammation and development of in vivo airway hyperreactivity. Prevention was due to an allergen-specific and general shift from a predominant Th2 towards a predominant Th1 immune response.
Conclusion: Vaccination with diphtheria and tetanus toxoids alone or in combination with whole cell pertussis vaccine prior to allergen sensitization prevented allergen-induced Th2 immune responses. Vaccine antigens may down-regulate allergic responses to a range of common allergens.