Genetic immunization has proven a powerful method to induce antiallergic immune responses. The underlying functional principle has been described to be based on the recruitment of allergen-specific Th1 cells, CD8+ cells and the establishment of a Th1 cytokine milieu, which prevent the development of a Th2-biased response in a protective setup and can balance an ongoing Th2-type response in a therapeutic situation. Genetic immunization with plasmid DNA offers innovative solutions to the major problems associated with protein immunization, such as crosslinking of pre-existing immunoglobulin E on mast cells/basophils or induction of de novo synthesis of immunoglobulin E by the protein immunization itself. It easily enables the routine production of hypoallergenic vaccines, which do not translate native allergens, thus avoiding potential anaphylactic side effects. DNA vaccines can also be applied as mixtures of single vaccines, making them interesting candidates for treatment based on component-resolved diagnosis, followed by an individualized therapy with the relevant allergens. In addition to the description of up-to-date allergen gene vaccine approaches, this review gives an overview of animal studies dealing with the following topics: danger signals as the inherent adjuvant properties, methods to optimize the vaccine immunogenicity, modulation of the immune response, nonparenteral applications and low-dose vaccination strategies.
Copyright (c) 2006 S. Karger AG, Basel.