T helper subsets in allergic eye disease

Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014 Oct;14(5):477-84. doi: 10.1097/ACI.0000000000000088.


Purpose of review: Ocular allergy is an IgE-mediated disease that results in inflammation of the conjunctiva and, in more severe cases, the cornea. This is driven by an immediate hypersensitivity response via mast cells, followed by a late phase response mediated by eosinophils both of which are indeed dependent on T helper (Th) lymphocyte activity. Here, we provide an update on Th subsets [Th1, Th2, Th17, and T regulatory (Treg)] and their relevance in ocular allergy.

Recent findings: Recent evidence in ocular allergy points to an involvement of other Th subsets, in addition to Th2. However, how these subsets are activated and their role in mediating the different clinical forms is poorly understood. Novel mouse models may facilitate addressing such unknowns, and future challenges will involve how to translate such findings into more effective and 'patho-specific' treatments.

Summary: Ocular allergy, especially in severe forms, involves subsets other than Th2. Th1 cells have been detected in mild and severe forms, and recent evidence points to a possible role for IL-17 in severe disease. Tregs, on the other hand, dampen pathogenic Th cell function and allergy immunotherapy is associated with Treg augmentation in disease management. Further understanding of Th biology is warranted and may lead to better therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Eye / immunology*
  • Eye / pathology
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Hypersensitivity / therapy
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Interleukin-17 / metabolism
  • Mice
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / immunology*


  • Interleukin-17