Bee venom enhances the differentiation of human regulatory T cells

Allergy. 2015 Oct;70(10):1340-5. doi: 10.1111/all.12691. Epub 2015 Jul 30.


Venom-specific immunotherapy (VIT) is well recognized by its efficacy, and compelling evidence implicates regulatory T cells (Tregs) in the underlying tolerogenic mechanisms. Additionally, hymenoptera venom has for a long time been claimed to modulate immunity. Here, we investigated the putative role of bee venom (Bv) in human FOXP3-expressing Treg homeostasis and differentiation, irrespective of the donors' allergic status. We found that Bv significantly enhanced the differentiation of FOXP3-expressing cells both from conventional naïve CD4 T cells and mature CD4 thymocytes, a property that may contribute to the VIT's capacity to expand circulating Tregs in allergic individuals. We expect that our data enlightening the Treg-mediated immunomodulatory properties of Bv regardless of TCR specificity, to have application in other allergies, as well as in other clinical settings, such as autoimmunity and transplantation.

Keywords: bee venom; regulatory T cells; venom-specific immunotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Surface / metabolism
  • Bee Venoms / immunology*
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Desensitization, Immunologic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunomodulation
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / metabolism
  • T-Cell Antigen Receptor Specificity / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / cytology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / cytology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / metabolism


  • Antigens, Surface
  • Bee Venoms
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell