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.
© 2015 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.