Allergen-specific immunotherapy has been used for 100 years as a desensitizing therapy for allergic diseases and represents the potentially curative and specific method of treatment. The mechanisms of action of allergen-specific immunotherapy include the very early desensitization effects, modulation of T-and B-cell responses and related antibody isotypes, and migration of eosinophils, basophils, and mast cells to tissues, as well as release of their mediators. Regulatory T (Treg) cells have been identified as key regulators of immunologic processes in peripheral tolerance to allergens. Skewing of allergen-specific effector T cells to a regulatory phenotype appears as a key event in the development of healthy immune response to allergens and successful outcome in patients undergoing allergen-specific immunotherapy. Naturally occurring forkhead box protein 3-positive CD4(+)CD25(+) Treg cells and inducible T(R)1 cells contribute to the control of allergen-specific immune responses in several major ways, which can be summarized as suppression of dendritic cells that support the generation of effector T cells; suppression of effector T(H)1, T(H)2, and T(H)17 cells; suppression of allergen-specific IgE and induction of IgG4; suppression of mast cells, basophils, and eosinophils; and suppression of effector T-cell migration to tissues. New strategies for immune intervention will likely include targeting of the molecular mechanisms of allergen tolerance and reciprocal regulation of effector and Treg cell subsets.
Copyright Â© 2010 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.