T-cell responses induced by allergen-specific immunotherapy

Clin Exp Immunol. 2010 Jul 1;161(1):10-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2010.04148.x. Epub 2010 Apr 9.


Allergen-specific immunotherapy is recognized as a highly effective practice in the treatment of patients with severe allergic rhinitis and/or asthma and is recommended by World Health Organization as an integrated part of allergy management strategy. Several studies have shown that allergen-specific immunotherapy, based on the administration of increasing doses of allergen, achieves a hyposensitization and reduces both early and late responses occurring during the natural exposure to the allergen itself. This is the unique antigen-specific immunomodulatory treatment in current use for human diseases. Successful immunotherapy is associated with reductions in symptoms and medication scores and improved quality of life. After interruption it usually confers long-term remission of symptoms and prevents the onset of new sensitizations in children up to a number of years. Subcutaneous immunotherapy usually suppresses the allergen-induced late response in target organs, likely due to the reduction of the infiltration of T cells, eosinophils, basophils, mast cells and neutrophils. In addition to the reduction of cells of allergic inflammation, immunotherapy also decreases inflammatory mediators at the site of allergen exposure. This review provides an update on the immunological T cell responses induced by conventional subcutaneous and sublingual immunotherapy, and gives a unifying view to reconciling the old dualism between immunoredirecting and immunoregulating mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Sublingual
  • Allergens / administration & dosage
  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Allergens / therapeutic use
  • Cytokines / physiology
  • Desensitization, Immunologic*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / biosynthesis
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Interleukin-10 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-10 / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Models, Immunological
  • Signal Transduction / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology


  • Allergens
  • Cytokines
  • IL10 protein, human
  • Interleukin-10
  • Immunoglobulin E