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Keywords:

  • allergy;
  • immunetolerance;
  • immunotherapy;
  • T-cell subsets

To cite this article: Jutel M, Akdis CA. Immunological mechanisms of allergen-specific immunotherapy. Allergy 2011; 66: 725–732.

Abstract

The studies on the mechanisms of specific immunotherapy (SIT) point out its targets that decide on the efficacy of SIT and hence might be used for its further improvement. Several mechanisms have been proposed to explain the beneficial effects of immunotherapy. The knowledge of the mechanisms underlying allergic diseases and curative treatment possibilities has experienced exciting advances over the last three decades. Studies in several clinical trials in allergen-SIT have demonstrated that the induction of a tolerant state against allergens in many ways represents a key step in the development of a healthy immune response against allergens. Several cellular and molecular mechanisms have been demonstrated: allergen-specific suppressive capacities of both inducible subsets of CD4+ CD25+ forkhead box P3+ T-regulatory and IL-10-secreting type 1 T-regulatory cells increase in peripheral blood; suppression of eosinophils, mast cells, and basophils; Ab isotype change from IgE to IgG4. This review aims at the better understanding of the observed immunological changes associated with allergen SIT.