IL-4 receptor α blockade prevents sensitization and alters acute and long-lasting effects of allergen-specific immunotherapy of murine allergic asthma

Allergy. 2019 Aug;74(8):1549-1560. doi: 10.1111/all.13759. Epub 2019 Apr 11.


Background: Allergen-specific immunotherapy (AIT) is the only causal treatment for allergy. However, success rates vary depending on the type of allergy and disease background of the patient. Hence, strategies targeting an increased therapeutic efficacy are urgently needed. Here, the effects of blockade of IL-4 and IL-13 signaling on different phases of AIT were addressed.

Methods: The impact of the recombinantly produced IL-4 and IL-13 antagonist IL-4 mutein (IL-4M) on allergic sensitization and AIT outcome in experimental allergic asthma were analyzed in a murine model. The effects of IL-4M administration were assessed prior/during sensitization, immediately after AIT under allergen challenge, and two weeks post-treatment.

Results: Intervention with IL-4M prior/during sensitization led to strong induction of IgG1, IgG2a, IgG2b, and IgG3, decrease of specific and total IgE, as well as of IL-5 in serum. Similar effects on the serum immunoglobulin levels were observed immediately after IL4M-supplemented AIT during allergen challenge. Additionally, IL4M markedly suppressed type-2 cytokine secretion of splenocytes beyond the effect of AIT alone. These effects were equaled to those of AIT alone two weeks post-treatment. Intriguingly, here, IL-4M induced a sustained decrease of Th2-biased Tregs (ST2+ FOXP3+ GATA3intermediate ).

Conclusions: IL-4 and IL-13 blockade during experimental AIT demonstrates beneficial effects on immunological key parameters such as immunoglobulin and cytokine secretion immediately after AIT. Although two weeks later these effects were dropped to those of AIT alone, the number of potentially disease-triggering Th2-biased Tregs was further significantly decreased by IL-4M treatment. Hence, IL-4/IL13-targeting therapies prime the immune memory in therapy success-favoring manner.

Keywords: IL-4-receptor-α; Th2-like regulatory T cells; allergen-specific immunotherapy; allergic asthma; cytokine antagonist.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / administration & dosage
  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use
  • Asthma / drug therapy
  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Asthma / metabolism
  • Asthma / therapy*
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology
  • Desensitization, Immunologic* / methods
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Immunization
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Interleukin-4 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-4 Receptor alpha Subunit / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Mice
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism


  • Allergens
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Interleukin-4 Receptor alpha Subunit
  • Interleukin-4
  • Immunoglobulin E