Background: Genetic engineering of the major birch pollen allergen (Bet v 1) has led to the generation of recombinant Bet v 1 derivatives with markedly reduced IgE-binding capacity, but with retained T cell activating ability.
Objective: To compare the mucosal reactivity to rBet v 1 derivatives with rBet v 1 wild-type as basis for new therapeutic strategies for birch pollen allergy based on mucosal tolerance induction.
Methods: Outside the pollen season, 10 patients with birch pollen allergic rhinitis and mild asthma underwent four nasal challenge-sessions in a randomized, double-blind, and cross-over design, employing increasing doses of rBet v 1 fragment mix, rBet v 1 trimer, rBet v 1 wild-type and diluent (albumin). Nasal lavage fluids (NAL) were collected before the challenge-series as well as 10 min, 4 and 24 h thereafter. Nasal lavage fluid levels of tryptase as well as EPO and ECP were measured as indices of mast cell and eosinophil activity, respectively.
Results: All 10 patients tolerated the highest accumulated dose, 8.124 microg, when challenged with rBet v 1 trimer, eight with rBet v 1 fragments compared to one when challenged with rBet v 1 wild-type. No late phase reactions were observed. The change in tryptase levels (pre-challenge vs. 10 min) was significantly lower after challenges with rBet v 1 trimer and rBet v 1 fragments than with rBet v 1 wild-type. The change in EPO/ECP concentration pre-challenge versus 4 h post-challenge was lower for rBet v 1 trimer and the change was significantly lower when pre-challenge versus 24 h post-challenge to rBet v 1 fragments and rBet v 1 wild-type was examined.
Conclusion: The derivatives induced significantly fewer symptoms and lower mast cell and eosinophil activation than rBet v 1 wild-type upon application to the nasal mucosa. They could in the future be candidates for immunotherapy based on mucosal tolerance induction.