• food allergy;
  • immune modulation;
  • oral immunotherapy;
  • Ovomucoid;
  • T regulatory cells;
  • T-cell epitope

To cite this article: Rupa P, Mine Y. Oral immunotherapy with immunodominant T-cell epitope peptides alleviates allergic reactions in a Balb/c mouse model of egg allergy. Allergy 2012; 67: 74–82.


Background:  Allergen-specific T-cell epitopes are obvious targets for immunotherapeutic interventions in allergic disease. T-cell epitope peptides given orally may provide a practical way of inducing tolerance and preventing allergy.

Objective:  This study investigates oral immunotherapy (OIT) with T-cell epitope peptides of the dominant egg-white allergen ovomucoid (Ovm) in a Balb/c mouse model of egg allergy.

Methods:  Groups of mice were orally sensitized to Ovm and subsequently administered Ovm T-cell epitopes [single peptide 157–171 (SP) or multiple peptide (157–171)3 (MP)], followed by oral challenge with Ovm. Outcomes post oral challenge were measured as clinical signs, serum histamine, antibody activity (IgG, IgE, IgG1, IgG2, IgA), cytokines (IL-4, IFN-γ, IL-12p70, IL-10, TGF-β, and IL-17), and T regulatory cells (Tregs).

Results:  Clinical signs were less frequent in both SP and MP groups (P ≤ 0.05). Specific IgE was less and IgA was more in both groups; however, SP-treated mice had less histamine and IgG1 and more IgG2-related antibodies indicating a bias toward the type-1 response (P ≤ 0.05). Concentration of type-2 cytokine interleukin-4 (IL-4) was significantly less in both groups and IL-12p70 and IL-10 were more in SP-treated mice (P ≤ 0.001). Interferon-γ, IL-17, and TGF-β did not differ significantly. There was significant increase in the percentage of CD4+FOXP3+ and CD4+CD25+ cells in the SP group, indicating the significant role of Tregs in immune regulation.

Conclusion:  In summary, we demonstrated that OIT with SP and MP comprising the immunodominant regions of Ovm was safe and significantly reduced subsequent frequency of allergy to Ovm, and validated potential use of Ovm T-cell epitope as an immunoregulator.