SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • adjuvants;
  • dendritic cells;
  • oral mucosa;
  • sublingual allergen-specific immunotherapy;
  • tolerance

To cite this article: Novak N, Bieber T, Allam J-P. Immunological mechanisms of sublingual allergen-specific immunotherapy. Allergy 2011; 66: 733–739.

Abstract

Within the last 100 years of allergen-specific immunotherapy, many clinical and scientific efforts have been made to establish alternative noninvasive allergen application strategies. Thus, intra-oral allergen delivery to the sublingual mucosa has been proven to be safe and effective. As a consequence, to date, sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is widely accepted by most allergists as an alternative to conventional subcutaneous immunotherapy. Although immunological mechanisms remain to be elucidated in detail, several studies in mice and humans within recent years provided deeper insights into local as well as systemic immunological features in response to SLIT. First of all, it was shown that the target organ, the oral mucosa, harbours a sophisticated immunological network as an important prerequisite for SLIT, which contains among other cells, local antigen-presenting cells (APC), such as dendritic cells (DCs), with a constitutive disposition to enforce tolerogenic mechanisms. Further on, basic research on local DCs within the oral mucosa gave rise to possible alternative strategies to deliver the allergens to other mucosal regions than sublingual tissue, such as the vestibulum oris. Moreover, characterization of oral DCs led to the identification of target structures for both allergens as well as adjuvants, which could be applied during SLIT. Altogether, SLIT came a long way since its very beginning in the last century and some, but not all questions about SLIT could be answered so far. However, recent research efforts as well as clinical approaches paved the way for another exciting 100 years of SLIT.